There are five subspecies of Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). Four of these subspecies are located in the eastern portions of the United States and Mexico. The fifth subspecies is found strictly on the West Coast of the United States and Mexico.
Red-shouldered Hawks prefer habitat that includes woodland or forested areas near water. In these riparian habitats, these raptors use their excellent eyesight to search for prey which may consist of small amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Forested habitats also provide perfect nesting sites as they will generally nest in large trees and will use the same nesting site for several years. These hawks will fiercely defend their territory from larger hawks, crows, owls, and even humans that may be a threat to their offspring.
Most Red-shouldered Hawks in Southern California will occupy a territory of 1-1.2 km2. As human development has encroached upon their forest habitats, some of these resilient birds have adapted to living in cities. We encourage you to go outside and see if you have a resident Red-shouldered Hawk near your home!