Plants and Animals
Buteo lineatus Red-shouldered hawk
Adult Red-shouldered hawks can be distinguished by the reddish coloration of their underparts and wing linings and their 5 - 6 narrow, white tail bands. In flight, they show crescent-shaped translucent patches lining the bases of the long, outermost wing feathers (the "primaries"). These patches are sometimes referred to as "windows". The bird's red shoulders are often not readily visible. Their call during the breeding season is distinctive; a loud, rapidly repeated "kee-yer", though it is closely imitated by Blue jays. Immatures have their underparts streaked with brown, teardrop-shaped spots.
Status and Rank
US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S4 - Apparently secure
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Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.
Red-shouldered hawks will nest in a variety of habitats but seem to be closely associated with mature forests in or adjacent to wet meadows and swamps.
Natural Community Types
- Dry-mesic northern forest
- Dry-mesic southern forest
- Floodplain forest
- Mesic northern forest
- Mesic southern forest
- Southern hardwood swamp
For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.
Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.
Management practices that maintain greater than 70% canopy closure, retain large trees for nesting, and conserve large contiguous blocks of deciduous or mixed forest stands and associated wetland habitat should benefit this species.
Migration from fourth week of February to second week of March
Migration from fourth week of August to fourth week of October
Nesting from third week of March to fourth week of June
Surveys are best accomplished from mid-March through early May (SLP) or mid-April through early May (NLP & UP), when birds are exhibiting territorial behavior, roads are relatively accessible, and leaves have not obscured nests. A standard and effective survey methodology for this species is to broadcast a Red-shouldered Hawk call with a CD player (or other electronic device) in suitable habitat.
Broadcast conspecific call
Survey Period: From first week of April to first week of June
Time of Day: Daytime
- Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.
- Cooper, J.L. 1999. Special Animal Abstract for Buteo lineatus (Red-shouldered hawk). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 3pp.
- Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
- Sibley, D.A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Knopf, Toronto. 544pp.