A beautiful Red Shouldered Hawk has caught a Black Racer Snake and proceeds to eat it on a dead pine branch in the Backyard. Hawks sit on fences and watch for young snakes active in the daytime - not only are they easy to catch, but they are like tender gourmet food for the hawks.
The Red-shouldered Hawk is one of the most beautiful and distinctively marked hawks in North America. Adults are barred with rusty-red on the underparts and have bright rufous shoulders. Their underparts are dark brown, and the tail is black with 4 or 5 narrow white bands. When in flight, pale crescents in the wings are visible from below. They breed from northern California south to Baja, in the Midwestern United States east to New Brunswick; and south to the Florida Keys and Texas. Habitat. In Florida, Red-Shouldered Hawks nest in a wide variety of woodland habitats, but they are particularly identified with cypress swamps and river bottomlands. It most frequently still-hunts from a relatively low, inconspicuous perch but may also forage from a low, coursing flight (Palmer 1988; Johnsgard 1990). Its diet is characterized by sluggish, easily captured animals, such as toads, frogs, snakes, rodents, and small birds and their nestlings (Kimmel and Frederickson 1981, Palmer 1988, Kale and Maehr 1990). Typical nest sites are located in large mature trees with good canopy cover. A bulky well-built nest is usually placed a little more than halfway up the tree in a major fork (Kimmel and Frederickson 1981, Bednarz and Dinsmore 1982, Palmer 1988). Usually two whitish eggs marked with brown are laid and incubated for approximately 33 days. The young birds fledge at 40 to 45 days of age (Palmer 1988; Johnsgard 1990). Seasonal Occurrence. In Florida, Red-shouldered Hawks breed from January through May (Kale and Maehr 1990), or through June (B. Millsap, pers. commun.). Most birds reside in Florida, but the states' population is augmented in September and October by fall migrants from northern states.
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