Fun Facts

  • This species will eat birds, reptiles, and amphibians in addition to small mammals.
  • The local subspecies (variety) of Red-shouldered Hawk is named Buteo lineatus elegans. Its darker rufous coloration differs from East Coast populations. 
  • Unlike many hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks in California are largely sedentary, or non-migratory.
  • When viewing this hawk in flight, look for the translucent crescent-shaped "windows" near the wingtips—a key field mark for this species.

Bird of the Month

April 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)


Photo © Tom Clifton

Calling persistently while chasing off a crow in flight, the male Red-shouldered Hawk dutifully defends his nest. The raucous echoes of this hawk's calls are a typical sound in woodland habitat, often near water. These birds commonly nest in eucalyptus trees, building their nests in late March and laying eggs by April. The young will hatch in April through June, fledging 45 days after hatching.
These birds hunt small rodents, often using telephone wires as a vantage point. The species can be told apart from other local hawks by its smaller size, prominent black-and-white wing and tail markings, and rich rufous chest. As with other birds of prey, females are larger than males.