Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Red shouldered hawks belong to the same family as the well-known red-tailed hawk. Unfortunately, this "buteo" is not as common as its red-tailed relative. The "Birds of Illinois" notes that red-shouldered hawks were once plentiful in bottomland forests throughout the state, even being considered regular summer residents of the Chicago area.

However, beginning in the 1960's, they began to decline and are now found most often in southern Illinois. Habitat loss, disturbance of nesting sites and pesticide use are the likely culprits. However, they have been making a comeback in recent years, thanks to the strong protection of the law. They are no longer considered threatened in Illinois.

A red-shouldered hawk chick peers out of its nest.

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 Quick Facts about red-shouldered hawks:

Small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds

When do we see them?

Red-shouldered hawks normally inhabit bottomland forests.


Removed from the Illinois State Threatened and Endangered List in late 2003. Populations are recovering.


Similar to the red-tailed hawk, but differentiated by its reddish underside and distinctively banded tail

 Nesting Habits:

30-40 feet high in a tree located in bottomland forest. The photo of the red-shouldered hawk chick in its nest at lower left was taken along the Sangamon River in Macon County, Illinois.


Similar to that of a red-tailed hawk, but higher in pitch and repeated.

photos by Dennis Oehmke (top) and Chris Young.