Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk


Profile Red-shouldered Hawk
[Authority] Gmelin, 1788 | [group] Kites, hawks and eagles | [order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Buteo lineatus | [UK] Red-shouldered Hawk |

[Authority] Gmelin, 1788 | [group] Kites, hawks and eagles | [order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Buteo lineatus | [UK] Red-shouldered Hawk | [FR] Buse a epaulettes | [DE] Rotschulter-Bussard | [ES] Busardo Hombrorrojo | [NL] Roodschouderbuizerd | copyright picture

copyright: Redknot

Recognized as a buteo by the ample tail and broad wings; as this species by the heavy dark bands across both sides of the tail. Adults have dark rufousshoulders
(not always easy to see) and robin-red underparts. In flight, note the translucent patch, or -window,- at the base of the primaries.
Streaked; recognized by proportions, tail bands, and, in flight overhead, by the wing -windows.-

Bottomland woods, wooded streamsides, swamps.
In East, nests in deciduous and mixed forest, with tall trees and relatively open understory, often along rivers and swamps. May move into more open habitats in winter. In West, typically in riverside forest or in oak woodland, sometimes in eucalyptus groves. Florida birds may be in pine woods, mangroves.

Includes small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds. Diet varies with region and season. Main items are often mammals such as voles and chipmunks, at other times frogs and toads; may eat many crayfish in some areas. Also eats snakes, small birds, mice, large insects, occasionally fish, rarely carrion.
Behavior: Usually hunts by watching from a perch, either within forest or in open, swooping down when it locates prey. Sometimes flies very low in open areas, taking creatures by surprise. May use hearing as well as sight to locate prey.

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]

In courtship, male displays by flying upward, calling, then diving steeply. Pairs may soar together in circles, calling, high over nesting territory.
Nest: Site usually in deciduous tree (sometimes in conifer), in fork or at base of branches against main trunk, usually 35-65 above ground. Nest (built by both sexes) is platform of sticks, lined with bark, moss, and sprigs of green vegetation. Nest may be used more than one season.
Clutch is Usually 3-4, sometimes 2. Pale bluish white, blotched with brown and lavender. Incubation is mostly by female, roughly 33 days. Male brings food to female at nest and may sit on eggs while female eats.
Young: Female remains with young most of the time for first 1-3 weeks after they hatch; male brings food, female feeds it to nestlings. Young leave nest at about 5-7 weeks after hatching, are fed by parents another 8-10 weeks.

Southeastern Canada, eastern United States, California, Mexico. Migration: Mostly a permanent resident in West and South; northern birds migrate, but do not travel far. Some movement in winter as far south as central Mexico.


  1. Measurements
  2. spanwidth min.: 90 cm
  3. spanwidth max.: 127 cm
  4. size min.: 43 cm
  5. size max.: 61 cm
  6. Breeding
  7. incubation min.: 30 days
  8. incubation max.: 35 days
  9. fledging min.: 42 days
  10. fledging max.: 48 days
  11. broods 1
  12. eggs min.: 2
  13. eggs max.: 5
  14. Conservation Status
  15. Red-shouldered Hawk status Least Concern


  1. Buteo lineatus elegans
  2. s Oregon (USA) to Baja California (Mexico)
  3. Buteo lineatus texanus
  4. s Texas (USA) to se Mexico
  5. Buteo lineatus extimus
  6. s Florida and the Florida Keys (USA)
  7. Buteo lineatus alleni
  8. sc Texas to North Carolina and n Florida (USA)
  9. Buteo lineatus lineatus
  10. e North America
  11. Buteo lineatus
  12. NA se, c, also ne Mexico
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