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Red-shouldered Hawk
Buteo lineatus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Bang's Red-shouldered Hawk (extimus), Eastern Red-shouldered Hawk (lineatus), Florida Red-shouldered Hawk (alleni), Red-bellied Hawk (elegans), Red-shouldered Buzzard, Texas Red-shouldered Hawk (texanus).

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Buteo lineatus
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Distribution: Nearctic. Breeds in eastern North America from southern CANADA to Florida and MEXICO (at least formerly Tamaulipas) and in the Pacific region from southern Oregon to Baja California Norte, MEXICO west of the Sierra Nevada; winters in breeding range, except for most northern areas, and south to central MEXICO. more....

Subspecies: 5 races. B. l. alleni: Southeastern UNITED STATES (South-central Texas east to South Carolina and northern Florida); B. l. elegans: Northwestern UNITED STATES (southern Oregon) to northwestern MEXICO (Baja California); B. l. extimus: Extreme southeastern UNITED STATES (Florida and the Florida Keys); B. l. lineatus: Eastern NORTH AMERICA from southern CANADA to central UNITED STATES; B. l. texanus: Southern UNITED STATES (southern Texas), wintering to central eastern MEXICO (Veracruz).

Taxonomy: Formerly thought to be related to B. ridgwayi, B. magnirostris, and probably Asturina nitida (and formerly placed in the latter genus), but recent molecular studies have not supported such an arrangement. Based on analyses of DNA sequences of both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, Lerner et al. (2008) were not able to resolve the position of B. lineatus within the genus Buteo. Using both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, Hull et al. (2008) found significant population distinction beteen eastern (B. l. lineatus/alleni/texanus) and western (B.l. elegans) subspecies and that the latter race experienced a recent bottleneck, presumably associated with extensive habitat loss in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Northernmost populations are migratory, but those in southern latitudes and in the western United States are mostly sedentary. The race lineatus is a regular migrant throughout the eastern and midwestern United States (Crocoll 1994), but the western race, elegans, is largely sedentary (Bloom 1985). However, there is some dispersal by elegans, according to Jon Dunn (pers.comm. to Carlisle et al. 2007), with some birds likely dispersing farther than others. more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in moist and riparian forests, wooded swamps, open deciduous or mixed forests, and in suburban areas. In many areas, e.g., Florida, this species is closely associated with wetlands and riparian habitat (Morrison et al. 2007). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Takes a wide range of prey, including voles, mice, shrews, birds, snakes, frogs, lizards, fish, crayfish, spiders, caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, and earthworms. Usually hunts from a perch in a tree, or on a pole or fence, often near water. more....

Breeding: Builds a bulky stick nest lined with bark, leaves, and lichens and placed midway up in a large tree. Clutch size is 2-4 eggs, and the incubation period is 27-28 days (Burns 1915). The nestling period is 35-39 days (Wiley 1975, Penak 1982), but as long as 45 days in Canada (COSEWIC 2009). more....

Conservation: Common throughout much of its range and has adapted better to surburban and urban habitats than most other Buteos. The range of the western race elegans has been expanding along its northern margins, and there have been recent reports of this species in British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Utah, especially along the Pacific coast. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: The Canadian population is estimated at 2,000 to 5,000 pairs (COSEWIC 2009). more....

Important References: 
Bent, A.C. 1937. Life histories of North American birds of prey. Order
  Falconiformes (Part 1). U.S. National Museum Bulletin 167.
Crocoll, S.T. 1994. Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus. In A. Poole and F.
  Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America no. 107. The Academy of Natural
  Sciences of Philadelphia and American Ornithologists' Union, Washington,
Jacobs, J.P., and E.A. Jacobs. 2002. Conservation assessment of
  Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), national forests of north
  central states. Unpublished report to USDA Forest Service Eastern Region,
  Milwaukee, WI.
White, C.M. 1994. Red-shouldered Hawk. P. 179 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Sites of Interest:
Red-shouldered Hawk photos.

Andersen, David
Bloom, Peter
Crocoll, Scott
Dykstra, Cheryl
Farmer, Chris
Goodrich, Laurie
Lincer, Jeff
Mojica, Libby
Moore, Stan
Morrison, Joan
Smith, Jeff
Speiser, Robert
Wiley, James

Last modified: 9/13/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 14 Jun. 2021

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