About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How to identify a Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawks belong to a group of hawks called “Buteos” or soaring hawks.  Buteo is the Latin name of the Common Buzzard. In the Old World, members of this genus are called "buzzards", but "hawk" is used in North America.

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized raptor with a chunky appearance, broad wings and fan-shaped tail. They have a brown head, a dark brown back and reddish brown finely barred under parts. The Red-shouldered Hawk gets its name from reddish brown feathers on their upper wings giving the bird the appearance of having red shoulders, although this part of the wing is actually the hawk’s wrist. Their tails are dark brown/black with narrow white bands.

They range from the Great Lakes region east to Maine and south to Texas and Florida. They are also found along the coast of California. Populations of this hawk in the northeast migrate to northern Mexico for the winter.
Red-shouldered hawks usually live in deciduous or mixed deciduous-conifer forests and swamps. They like to perch on dead trees to observe and hunt animals on the forest floor. You may be able to locate them by one of their common calls, “keeyuur, keeyuur”. They hunt mainly small mammals, no larger than a rabbit or squirrel. They will also eat snakes, toads, frogs, small birds, and large insects.

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