Bird of the Week: Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawks are often heard long before they are seen, their insistent territorial calls echoing through the forests they call home. Smaller than their common cousin, the Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawks prefer woodlands with open understories, and are commonly found near bodies of water. They hunt from perches above the water or in the forest canopy, watching for signs of the small creatures that constitute their diet–mice, frogs, lizards, and the occasional fish. While birds in the northeastern extent of their range may winter in southern states, Texas hawks are generally residents, often “refurbishing” and occupying the same nest year after year. In the air, Red-shouldered Hawks are easily distinguished from other buteos by the translucent crescents near the tips of their wings, though the smaller Sharp-shinned Hawk is a close lookalike and can make for difficult IDs where their ranges overlap (an area which includes central Texas).

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.

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