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Red-shouldered Hawk - BirdForum Opus

B. l. texanus, adult
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Camelot Park, Bryan, Brazos County, Texas, USA,17 September 2013
Buteo lineatus


B. l. extimus, adult
Photo © by tetoneon
Naples, Florida, USA,12 January 2014

38–47 cm (15-18½ in); females larger

  • Brown head
  • Red chest
  • Pale belly with reddish bars
  • Narrow tail marked with narrow white bars
  • Red "shoulder" is visible when the bird is perched
  • Upper parts dark with pale spots
  • Long yellow legs
  • In flight, distinctive translucent crescent near tips of primaries
  • Very vocal compared to most other raptors
  • Juveniles lack the reddish shoulders and have vertical streaking on the breast. The tail has buff, not white bars.


B. l. elegans, adult
Photo © by digishooter
Wofford Heights, Kern Co., California, USA, 21 December 2007

The subspecies differ in color intensity, with B. l. extimus the palest, and B. l. elegans the most richly orange; also slight differences in size though this is not useful in the field.

There is less plumage variation between the juveniles of the different subspecies.


Photo © by Helen Baines
SE Texas, USA, 15 December 2008

Eastern North America and along the coast of California and northern Mexico.


Photo © by STEFFRO1
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, USA, 9 February 2021


Photo © by Ozprey1
Princeton, Minnesota, USA,
13 March 2021

Five subspecies are accepted[1]:

  • B. l. lineatus:
  • South-eastern Canada, north-eastern and central eastern USA
  • B. l. alleni:
  • South-eastern USA (except southern Florida)
  • B. l. extimus:
  • B. l. elegans:
  • B. l. texanus:

The California subspecies B. l. elegans is well separated from the rest of the species' range, and has been suggested as a potential species split, though none of the major authorities have accepted this.


Deciduous and mixed wooded areas, often near water. Quite common in suburban subdivisions with trees, water features and golf courses. Observed at heights around 94m.



A stick nest is built in a major fork of a large tree and 3 to 4 blotchy marked eggs are laid. They are incubated for 28 to 33 days. The young leave the nest at about six weeks of age, but remain dependent on the parents until they are 17 to 19 weeks old.


Includes voles, mice and chipmunks, amphibians, reptiles (especially small snakes), small birds and large insects. They usually hunt from a perch.


Call: Loud, strident repeated cries: keeah, keeah, keeah.


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Dykstra, C. R., J. L. Hays, and S. T. Crocoll (2020). Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.reshaw.01
  3. BirdForum Member observations

Recommended Citation

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GSearch checked for 2020 platform.