Plants and Animals

Buteo lineatus Red-shouldered hawk

species photo
David Cuthrell
species photo
David Cuthrell
species photo
David Cuthrell
species photo
Pete Badra

Key Characteristics

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:
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S4 - Apparently secure

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alcona72010
Alger72003
Allegan92013
Alpena112003
Antrim142004
Arenac22004
Benzie132004
Berrien21998
Charlevoix142009
Cheboygan822015
Chippewa102017
Clare12003
Crawford22004
Delta122016
Emmet212015
Gladwin22003
Gogebic11994
Grand Traverse52004
Ionia12015
Iosco72006
Iron11984
Kalkaska52004
Kent12016
Lake72009
Lapeer12006
Leelanau12015
Livingston12004
Luce32004
Mackinac592017
Macomb11974
Manistee542011
Marquette22013
Mason72011
Menominee52009
Midland32012
Missaukee12003
Montcalm22015
Montmorency172004
Muskegon22014
Newaygo62009
Oakland32005
Oceana11999
Ogemaw32012
Oscoda32007
Otsego192004
Ottawa12000
Presque Isle42004
Roscommon12003
Schoolcraft102016
St. Clair12004
Tuscola22016
Van Buren12015
Washtenaw12005
Wayne12006
Wexford232016

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.

Habitat

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.

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 Recommendations

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.

Active Period

Migration from fourth week of February to second week of March

Nesting from third week of March to fourth week of June

Migration from fourth week of August to fourth week of October

Survey Methods

Surveys are best accomplished from mid-April through early May, 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 tape recorder or CD player in suitable habitat.

Broadcast conspecific call

Survey Period: From first week of April to first week of June

Time of Day: Daytime

References

Survey References

  • Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.

Technical References

  • 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.