The Red-shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized bird of prey found throughout eastern and western North America. Adults typically measure around 17-24 inches in length, with a wingspan of approximately 35-50 inches. These birds can weigh between 1-2 pounds, with females being larger than males.
One of the distinguishing field marks of the Red-shouldered Hawk is its reddish-brown shoulders, which contrast with its dark brown wings and back. They also have a distinctive white chest with brown streaks, and a barred tail. Their eyes are dark brown, and they have a hooked beak and sharp talons for catching and killing their prey.
Red-shouldered Hawks are partially migratory, with some populations moving south during the winter months. However, many individuals are resident year-round, especially in the southern parts of their range. They typically nest in deciduous or mixed forests near water sources such as rivers or swamps.
Red-shouldered Hawks are opportunistic hunters and will eat a variety of prey, including small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. They are also known to eat other birds, including other raptors such as owls and smaller hawks. They hunt by perching in trees and scanning the ground below for potential prey, or by flying over open areas and swooping down on their prey.
Despite being fairly common in their range, Red-shouldered Hawks face threats from habitat loss, pesticide use, and collisions with cars and buildings. Conservation efforts such as habitat restoration and protection are important in ensuring the survival of these majestic birds of prey.