Natural Highlights: Red-shouldered Hawk

   photo by Collins Dillard

Spend any time along the Wolf River, paddling a canoe or strolling on the Wolf River Greenway, and you are likely to hear the persistent "kee-ah" call of the Red-shouldered Hawk which is at home in our bottomland hardwood forests throughout the year. Smaller than the ubiquitous Red-tailed Hawks, this beautiful bird of prey has a black and white striped tail and adults have reddish barring on the breast.  Look for whitish crescent marks near the tips of the wings when this bird is in flight.

The Red-shouldered Hawk has a particular fondness for riparian forests along waterways, such as those found along the length of the Wolf River, where it hunts for small mammals, snakes, lizards, amphibians, crayfish, and birds.  Courting pairs of Red-shouldered Hawks perform elaborate aerial displays before settling down to nest high up in the crotch of a large tree.  They will often reuse a nest, adding sticks and other materials as needed.

For the time being, the population of Red-shouldered Hawks seems to be stable.  As a forest-dependent species, it also depends on human forbearance and wisdom in protecting and restoring the healthy forest habitat that it needs, i.e., large canopy trees with a diverse understory and forest floor supporting a variety of prey species.

For more information on Red-shouldered Hawks, please visit the following links:

  photo by Collins Dillard

Posted by Cathy Justis at 1:57 PM