Red-shouldered inspector

A Red-shouldered Hawk on a power line

A Red-shouldered Hawk on a power line

Winter here is a great time for spotting hawks. In addition to our resident birds, we have a lot of refugees from the northern cold. With no leaves on the trees, they are even easier to spot. And, of course, power lines are very popular with many species.This Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) seems to be looking over the wiring on top of the power pole, as if he were an inspector hired by the power company.

When I was growing up in Indiana, any large hawk seen perching in the open or soaring overhead was called a “chicken hawk”. This label seemingly justified the slaughter of many of these birds. Red-shouldered Hawks are not very likely to take chickens, however. Their main prey is small mammals, lizards, snakes, and amphibians. Indeed, chickens do not make up a significant part of the diet of any North American raptors.

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