The Red-Shouldered Hawk is a medium sized hawk, and is named for its red patches on its shoulders. It is 17-24 inches long and has a wingspan of 36-48 inches. It will eat almost anything, insects, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and an occasional bird. When it comes do hunting mammals and birds, perch hunting is usually used. (Sitting on a perch until prey is spotted or flies by.)
The back and head of the Red-Shouldered Hawk are brown, and the undersides are white barred with rust. The wings are striped white and black on the top and bottom sides. The tail is black with faint white bands. Immatures have less red markings and more brown than the adults. They also have heavier brown markings on their undersides and a brown tail.
Nests are built in deciduous trees, usually near a source of water. They are rather large and consist mainly of sticks. They lay 3 to 5 eggs, which are off white or bluish white, spotted unevenly with brown. The eggs are incubated for 28-33 days and will fly in another 5-6 weeks.
The Red-Shouldered Hawk tends to prefer secluded, out-of-the-way places, such as woodlands, usually near water sources. They avoid open spaces but sometimes may nest near farms or suburbs.
The Red Shouldered Hawk is found in Eastern North America in Canada and the United States. It is found to the western boundary of the Great Plains and winters in the Gulf States.