Bird Database

Red-shouldered Hawk

(Buteo lineatus)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance




Habitat loss and fragmentation

Conservation Actions

Protect unfragmented forest blocks, minimize new fragmentation

Red-shouldered Hawk

(Buteo lineatus)

Like many birds of prey, the Red-shouldered Hawk declined because of persecution, habitat loss, and possibly pesticides in the early 20th century. In New Hampshire it was listed as threatened in the 1980s, but since then our population has rebounded and the species is widespread south of the White Mountains. Some of its recovery may be attributable to increasing tolerance for human activity and thus nesting in suburban areas. As winters warm it is also becoming a more regular sight from December to February in the southeastern part of the state.

Red-shouldered Hawks are early migrants, and birds that didn’t overwinter start arriving in late February or early March. They can be extremely vocal as they establish territories in mixed forests, usually near water, and are easily detected by their piercing “kee-aah” call. Be aware that this call is often mimicked by Blue Jays, so a visual confirmation is generally recommended. This is especially true in the winter when the hawks are much less vocal than the jays.

Their diet consists largely of small rodents, but because they are often associated with swamps and floodplains they also consume numbers of snakes, frogs, and even crayfish. Most of the time they hunt from a perch in the forest canopy, dropping down on unsuspecting prey. Occasionally they will hunt over fields or wetlands, or on the ground by ambushing small mammals as they emerge from burrows.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count