Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Red-shouldered Hawk

Today, several Francis Beidler Forest staff members saw a Red-shouldered Hawk(Buteo lineatus) on the handrail of the ramp leading to the nature center, near the outdoor classroom and perched 10 feet above the parking area. These hawks prefer forests with an open understory, especially those near water or flooded like Four Holes Swamp. They will hunt from a perch (see image) and pounce on their prey, which include small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and crayfish.

Mating season for Red-shouldered Hawks is from late January to July. They make their nest in the crotch between a limb and the main trunk of a tree. The nest is constructed of sticks and twigs and lined with finer twigs, bark, evergreen sprigs, dried leaves, moss, or down. The chicks will hatch in 28 to 33 days and fledge after an additional 39 to 45 days.

A visitor reported seeing "two fluffy hawk chicks" sitting together on a branch west of the boardwalk on the way to Goodson Lake. Hopefully, we can verify that sighting. Possibly the warm winter weather encouraged the hawks to start their family early.

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