Backyard birdwatching never gets boring. Just when things look peaceful and quiet all ‘you-know-what’ breaks out. I was watching a few birds at my feeder this morning when all of a sudden they panicked and quickly scattered to the nearest cover. In most cases that only means one thing – a raptor is nearby. Sure enough at that very moment I noticed a hawk flying low across the backyard, eventually landing on top of my unoccupied purple martin house. It was a red-shouldered hawk.
The red-shouldered hawk is a medium-sized hawk. They feed mostly on small mammals, but will hunt birds also. During winters, they sometimes habituate to preying on birds commonly found at bird feeders. Red-shoulders typically wait atop a perch and swoop down on their prey in a surprise attack method.
Look how his head turns 180 degrees to survey the yard behind him.
He eventually took off empty handed (or empty talon in this case) to hunt elsewhere.
Take a good look at the photo above and you can see its reddish "shoulder" on the top side of its right wing, hence the name red-shouldered hawk.