Raptors - Red Shouldered Hawks
Red-shouldered Hawk in Louisiana
In the pine lands and hardwood forests of southeastern Louisiana, where we make our home, the Red Shouldered Hawks live and breed. Red-shouldereds are hawks of the woodlands and riparian areas. They are about the size of a crow. A pair often mates for life and will nest in the same area year after year, as long as the pair survives. This small Buteo is a permanent resident in Louisiana.
For several years, we have been fortunate to host at least one pair of Red-shouldered Hawks in our habitat along the Tchefuncte River. We have often observed them as they interact with the other birds and animals. On several occasions we have been able to photograph this handsome bird of prey in its natural habitat.
These attractive hawks often nest in or near our habitat. One year, in early spring, we observed a pair of red-shouldered hawks mating. Later, the pair built a nest nearby, beside the road to the neighbors' house.
We weren't able to constantly observe the nest, but we did observe both birds hunting to feed their young. Both male and female thought that our yard was a prime hunting ground.
Hawk Captures Dove
One morning, I was watching one of the many mourning doves which often sit on the driveway, when all of a sudden a Red-shouldered hawk appeared out of nowhere. It swooped down grabbing the dove and taking it up into the oak tree. I grabbed my camera and sneaked outside. For almost an hour I was able to take many pictures of the hawk as it fed on the dove. Right in front of me, predator and prey, the life cycle of nature in action unfolded.
My Camera is a Canon Powershot SX50
Mobbing Blue Jays PicturesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Blue Jays Mobbing Hawk
Another morning a few months later, Linda Beall, a permitted hummingbird bander, and I were humanely trapping Ruby-throated hummingbirds for a study on their breeding habits. We heard a great commotion in the trees above and saw several Blue Jays mobbing a very irritated Red-shouldered Hawk. The Jays would scream at the hawk and then dive at it. One Blue Jay hit the hawk in the chest so hard that I thought it might have injured it.
I usually had my camera when we banded hummingbirds, so I took pictures of the whole thing. Finally after forty-five minutes of harassment, the hawk had enough and flew off to find a more quiet resting place.
For some reason, as I view the pictures, visions of Beatrix Potter's, Squirrel Nutkin and Old Brown, the owl come to mind. I think it was the look on the hawk's face. The expression was, "If you don't leave me alone, I'm going to eat you!"
Red-shouldered Hawk's Call Video
Raptor and Hawk Books
Immitating Hawk Calls
Recently, I kept hearing what sounded just like a red-shouldered hawk. As I searched the trees for the source of the calls, time and time again, all I saw was a blue jay with its mouth open. This jay has the call down pat and it has continued to fool me on more that one occasion.
Eastern Red-shouldered Hawk Facts
Stocky with relatively short, broad wings; rusty red shoulders; Black/white stiped tail
Very vocal, far-carrying calls.
17.1 – 27.3 ounces
16.9 – 24 inches
37 – 43.7 inches
Forest with open understory, riparian areas & swamps
Small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians & crawfish
In the main crotch of a tree, usually near water
Bowl of sticks, twigs and leaves lined with mosses, lichens & bark
2 – 5 eggs (dull white or faintly bluish with brown markings)
Precocial - eyes open, but helpless and covered with buff colored down
Stable but declining in some areas
Hawk Sitting Among Cypress Branches
We are glad to provide a good habitat for this bird of prey. Hopefully, we are helping to prevent the further decline in numbers due to the deforestation that Hurricane Katrina and the clean up clearing caused on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
Good Binoculars for Birdwatching
I prefer in-line binoculars.
More About Birds
- Banding a Hummingbird
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Do you have hawks or other raptors nesting near you?See results without voting
Louisiana Red-shouldered Hawk
© 2011 Yvonne L. B.
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