Red-shouldered hawks are forest raptors. In the East, they live in bottomland hardwood stands, flooded deciduous swamps, and upland mixed deciduous–conifer forests. They tend to live in stands with an open subcanopy, which makes it easier for them to hunt.

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 Hawk.

The juvenile red-shouldered hawk closely resembles the juvenile broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus), but may be distinguished by the streaking on its chest and belly. The juvenile develops the adult plumage at around 18 months of age, and the eyes turn from yellow to brown with adulthood.

Habitat loss has been a significant threat to the red-shouldered hawk in the past., the destruction of huge expanses of timberland has severely limited suitable habitat for the red-shouldered hawk, and forest cutting and the filling in of wetlands has diminished the number of available prey. The breaking up of contiguous forest into small blocks of forest surrounded by other habitat has had the additional adverse affect of creating habitat more suitable to the larger and more aggressive great horned owl and red-tailed hawk which is the red-shouldered hawk’s closest competitor.



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