As I stepped out of my car at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge recently, this Red-shouldered Hawk zipped by at eye level out of nowhere, and quickly disappeared into the trees lining the road. At first he stayed hidden, but then he emerged cautiously, peering out as if to get his bearings.
The eBird entry for this medium-sized Hawk (Buteo lineatus) illustrates how widespread their range can be. They are generally found year-round in much of the eastern United States, and are very common here in South Florida.
Audubon’s description of the Red-shouldered is reminiscent of many lovely walks in the woods: “A hawk of the woodlands, often heard before it is seen. The clear whistled calls of this hawk are conspicuous, especially in spring; in the east, Blue Jays often give a near-perfect imitation of this call.” (Audubon.org)
It’s always a treat to encounter a beautiful, cinnamon-breasted Red-shouldered Hawk like this, especially when unexpected and so close!