The Red-shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized raptor with a stocky anatomy and beautiful colors. The front or underside of the body contains reddish to peachy bars. The broad, rounded wings, 35 to 50 inches long, are checkered with dark and white colors plus translucent crescents tips. The tail is complemented with black and white bands and spreads out like a fan with the wings reaching forward during flight. The legs are lengthy and yellow with long, black and sharp claws. Males are 15 to 23 inches in length and weigh about 1.21 pounds while females measure 19 to 24 inches with a weight of about 1.5 pounds.
Red-shouldered Hawks’ habitats entail woodlands, forests, parks, and suburban areas near water like lakes, rivers and swamps. They prefer areas with tall woods and open sub-canopies, which provide optimal conditions for observing, hunting and nesting. They primarily live in eastern North America, the California coast, and northern to northeastern-central Mexico. These locations offer their preferred food comprised of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, large insects, and even other birds like sparrows, starlings, and doves.
Both male and female construct their nest with sticks, leaves, bark, moss and lichens with a finished dwelling of about two feet in diameter. They usually return to the same nest every year with the male arriving first to renovate the nest and protect the territory. Their nesting sites are commonly close to the peak of broad-leaved trees below the forest canopy 35 to 65 feet above ground. The female typically produces and incubates two to four eggs for thirty-three days while the male provides food. After hatching, the young depart from the nest after about five to seven weeks as the parents continue to care for them until they are eight to ten weeks old.
About Photographic Moment:
I discovered and photographed this hawk in my Titusville, FL neighborhood where she lives and produces offspring. Initially, she was in my yard but flew away as I chased her to another home in the area. Because she was standing on a wooden fence, I was able to rest my camera on the fence post and surprisingly very close to her–about 15 feet. As my research indicated, Red-shouldered Hawks that live in populated areas are keen to the presence of humans. It was awesome because she allowed me to take many photographs.View/Buy Larger Photo Gallery/Store