It’s a treat to see a Red-Shouldered Hawk circling in the sky above the hawk watch because you don’t get an opportunity to see too many of them. If you get a chance to see Red-Shouldered Hawk, you know that you’ve had a good day.
I don’t know too much about the Red-Shouldered Hawk, but here are some of the things that I have been learning;
- In Florida, Red-shouldered Hawks sometimes collaborate and peaceably coexist with American Crows (usually an enemy to all other birds because of their egg-hunting habits). They cooperatively mob mutual predators, mainly Great Horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks.
- Prior to 1900, the Red-shouldered Hawk was one of the most common North American raptors. Population densities decreased precipitously due to the clearing of mature forests (principally the wet hardwood forest they prefer) since that time. The changing of habitats has led to a general population increase of the Red-tailed Hawk, an occasional predator of its cousin.
- Local forest re-growth and the ban of hunting has allowed Red-shouldered Hawk populations to become more stable again and the species is not currently considered conservation dependent
- Courtship displays of the Red-Shouldered Hawk occur on the breeding grounds, and involve soaring together in broad circles while calling, or soaring and diving toward one another. Males may also perform the “”sky-dance”” by soaring high in the air, and then making a series of steep dives, each followed by a wide spiral and rapid ascent. These courtship flights usually occur in late morning and early afternoon
- Although Red-Shouldered Hawks have lived as long as within a month of 20 years old, few live half that long and only around half survive their first year. Early mortality can be due to natural causes, relating to harsh weather conditions, or more often starvation.
The chart below shows the numbers of Red-Shouldered Hawks that have been counted at the Picatinny Peak, Raccoon Ridge, Scott’s Mountain, Sunrise Mountain, and Wildcat Ridge hawk watches in Northwest New Jersey.