Red shouldered hawks are year-round Florida residents that can often be heard before they are seen. When hiking around Florida’s Adventure Coast, particularly in and around deciduous, marshy forest, listen for their unique whistle.
These large raptors are among the most distinctively marked – barred reddish beneath with a strongly banded tail. In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips let the sun shine through.
Common throughout regions of the Eastern United States, the Florida birds have a lighter gray colored head.
Preferred food hunted by these birds of prey as they soar beneath the forest canopy are small mammals, lizards, snakes and amphibians.
Red shouldered hawk pairs build stick nests, furnishing with shredded bark in a major fork of a large tree. They often return to the same nest year after year during mating season, which is between April and July and lay three to four eggs. Young leave the nest at about six weeks of age but remain dependent upon the parents until they are seventeen to nineteen weeks old.
(Pictured is a pair of juvenile Red Shouldered hawks)