Photo by Bill Harris

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Fun Fact

Red-shouldered Hawks return to the same nesting territory year after year. One Red-shouldered Hawk occupied a territory in southern California for 16 consecutive years.


"Buteo" is latin for hawk, while "lineatus" means "stipes" and refers to the tail.


The oldest-known Red-shouldered hawk was 22 years old.

Conservation Status

IUCN Least Concern


Red-shouldered Hawks are medium-sized, with broad, rounded wings and medium-length tails that they fan out when soaring. Adults are colorful hawks with black-and-white checkered wings and warm reddish barring on the breast. The tail is black with narrow white bands. Immatures are brown above and white below streaked with brown. All ages show narrow, pale crescents near the wingtips in flight.


38-61 cm (15-24 in)


90-127 cm (35-50 in)


460 to 930 g (1.0 to 2.1 lb)



Found in deciduous woodlands, often near rivers and swamps. They build stick nests in a main crotch of a large tree.


Mostly small mammals, lizards, snakes, and amphibians. They also eat toads, snakes, and crayfish. They occasionally eat birds, sometimes from bird feeders; recorded prey include sparrows, starlings, and doves.


Hunt by soaring over forests or perching on tree branches or utility wires. Its call, a rising kee-rah is a distinctive sound of the forest. They hunt small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles either from perches or while flying.


Both sexes help build the nest, or refurbish a prior year’s nest. Stick nests are about 2 feet in diameter and lined with bark, moss, and lichens.

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InfoNatura: Animals and Ecosystems of Latin America [web application]. 2007. Version 5.0 . Arlington, Virginia (USA): NatureServe. Available: (Accessed: April 7, 2013 ).

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