Family: (Accipitridae) Hawks and Allies
Preferred Habitat: Moist deciduous woodlands and forests; often near water.
Seasonal Occurrence: Common throughout the year. Breeds in our area.
Notes: The Red-shouldered Hawk is a fantastic Texas resident to look for this summer. You will find them in the eastern half of Texas in deciduous woodlands, particularly near swamps and rivers. Look for a medium-sized hawk with black-and-white checkered wings, a banded tail, and reddish barring on the chest. Juveniles are brownish overall with streaked underparts.
You can find them perched near water, at the edge of a clearing, on a pole, or soaring high above. You will probably be first alerted to them by their call, a rising whistle 'kee-ahh' repeated about 5-12 times. When you look up you might see the reddish coloring on the leading underside of the wing, but the key distinguishing characteristic of the Red-shouldered Hawk in flight is the translucent crescents near the wingtips (see photo below).
Their diet includes small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and occasionally birds from feeders. They hunt from mid-level perches in trees or by the edge of a pond where they sit silently, descending swiftly once they spot their prey. They are also very aggressive in their territory, attacking intruding crows, owls and other hawks. As you listen for this hawk, beware, Blue Jays are very good at impersonating their call!
- Meghan Anne