By

Larry Czajkoski

Our readers will be happy to hear that the South is the heartland for this colorful raptor.30_Red Shoulder Hawk (LBK)_Photo_MarApr2016 Issue IMG_1650[1]    (3)

Robin-orange shoulder patches and breast barring are hallmarks of the red-shouldered hawk. Although chunky, the red-shouldered is slimmer than the red-tailed hawk, and its tail is comparatively longer and barred in black and white.

Red-shouldered hawks hunt in forests found near water. And that is exactly where I photographed this red-shouldered as he perched at the edge of a wooded area and the beach of the Gulf of Mexico. They nest throughout the eastern US. Many reside year-round, though some northern birds migrate south in the winter. During warm months or in warm areas, red-shouldered hawks seek a variety of small animals, including various insects, frogs, snakes and lizards. In colder weather, rodents and small birds play a larger role in their diet.

Some developed areas sit within hearing or soaring range of red-shouldered hawks breeding in nearby woods; listen for the telltale scream and look to the sky when you hear KEEah, KEEah, KEEah.