Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)


French: Buse à épaulettes German: Rotschulterbussard Spanish: Busardo de hombro rojo

Falco lineatus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,

Long Island, New York, USA


Sometimes placed in Asturina. Probably closest to B. ridgwayi (see that species). Smaller, brighter W race elegans clearly distinguishable from E races; moreover, recent analysis indicated that W population and E populations represent genetically distinct lineages#R, suggesting that treatment as two separate species may be appropriate. Form texanus may be better regarded as a more richly coloured variant of alleni#R. Five subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. l. elegans Cassin, 1855 – Western Red-shouldered Hawk – W USA (S Oregon and California) and NW Mexico (Baja California).
  • B. l. lineatus (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – Eastern Red-shouldered Hawk – E North America, from SE Canada (SE Ontario to New Brunswick) to C USA; some winter as far S as Mexico (S to Jalisco and Veracruz).
  • B. l. texanus Bishop, 1912 – S USA (S Texas).
  • B. l. alleni Ridgway, 1885 – SE USA (E Oklahoma and E Texas to South Carolina and N Florida).
  • B. l. extimus Bangs, 1920 – SE USA (C & S Florida and Florida Keys).
  • Descriptive notes

    38–47 cm; males averages 550 g, larger female averages 701 g; wingspan 90–114 cm. Medium-sized, slender-bodied, tan to rufous woodland buzzard, with bold black-... read more


    Commonest vocalization, used in territory maintenance (and other contexts) a scream “kee-aaah... read more


    Mature lowland mixed deciduous-coniferous woodlands, in E USA especially alluvial, swampy and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Varied; takes small mammals (from shrews, mainly, to chipmunks), reptiles (mostly snakes, but some lizards and small turtles), birds (... read more


    Laying mainly Apr–May in Canada; Feb–Jun in California; Jan–Jun in Texas and Florida (season lasts until Sept even in S... read more


    N populations migrate to winter from C USA, where populations resident, to NE Mexico (S to Jalisco... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. In NE USA, reaches densities of 0·22 nests/100 ha. May have undergone slight overall decline since 1946; thought to... read more

    Recommended citation

    White, C.M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).