Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bird a Day: Red-shouldered Hawk

To celebrate the return of migrating birds, I will be posting a new bird a day every day this month.  May is peak time for warblers, vireos, tanagers, and the rest in Kentucky, so what better way to celebrate than to share photos of these wonderful animals and interesting facts about their natural history.  I hope you enjoy what I have to share!

The first bird for bird a day is the Red-shouldered Hawk.  This adult in flight was seen over Shippingport Island while looking for Osrpeys.  Red-shouldered Hawks are forest dwelling birds and prefer bottomland hardwoods, riparian areas, and flooded swamps.  They eat just about anything, including rodents, birds, crayfish, frogs, and snakes.  They are very vocal, letting off a repetitious kee-ah from a perch high in the tree tops.  They are most common in Florida where a where the subspecies extimus has a gray head and is paler overall with less rufous on the wings and breast.

Red-shouldered Hawk in flight

The Red-shouldered Hawks that occur in Kentucky are the eastern form like the one above.  The adults are rufous on the breast, belly, and upperwing coverts.  They have a black and white banded tail which is short as in most buteos.  Another good field mark is the crescent on the ends of the wings, you can see it very clearly in the bird above.  They often soar like Red-tailed Hawks, but if you look for the identification tips I listed, you will be able to clearly differentiate the two.


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