Guide to Boreal Birds
The Red-shouldered Hawk prefers lowlands, especially swampy woods and bogs. There it hunts by watching quietly from a low perch, dropping down to capture snakes and frogs. It also eats insects and small mammals. Normally shy, these birds become tame if they are not persecuted and in some places may nest in suburban areas. During courtship a pair can be quite noisy, wheeling in the sky above their nesting territory and uttering their distinctive whistled scream.
16-24" (41-61 cm). W. 3'4" (1 m). A large, long-winged hawk with white barring on dark wings, rusty shoulders, pale underparts barred with rust, and narrowly banded tail. In flight shows translucent area near tip of wing, visible from below. Young birds streaked below; best distinguished from young Red-tailed Hawks by somewhat smaller size, narrower tail, longer, narrower wings, and absence of white chest.
Shrill scream, kee-yeeear, with a downward inflection.
2 or 3 white eggs, spotted with brown, in a large mass of leaves and twigs placed 20-60' (6-18 m) up in a forest tree.
Deciduous woodlands, especially where there is standing water.
Breeds from Minnesota east to New Brunswick and south to Gulf Coast and Florida, and on Pacific Coast in California. Winters in breeding range north to southern New England.