Sub-category: Hawks, Kites, & Eagles
While in forested areas, these birds typically wait on a perch and swoop down on prey. When in clearings, they sometimes fly low in order to surprise prey. Small mammals are typically the most important prey, with voles, mice and chipmunks locally favored. Other prey can include amphibians, reptiles (especially small snakes), small birds, and large insects. During winters, they sometimes habituate to preying on birds commonly found at bird feeders, such as House Sparrows, Mourning Doves, and European Starlings.
Males are 15 to 23 inches long and weigh on average 1.21 lbs. Females are slightly larger at 19 to 24 inches in length and a mean weight of 1.5 lbs. The wingspan can range from 35 to 50 inches. Adults have brownish heads, reddish chests, and pale bellies with reddish bars. Their tails, which are quite long by Buteo standards, are marked with narrow white bars. Red "shoulders" are visible when the birds are perched. These hawks' upper parts are dark with pale spots and they have long yellow legs. The wings of adults are more heavily barred on the upper side. Juvenile red-shouldered hawks are most likely to be confused with juvenile broad-winged hawks, but can be distinguished by their long tails, crescent-like wing markings, and a more flapping, Accipiter-like flight style. In direct comparison, it is typically larger and longer proportioned than the Broad-wing, though is slightly smaller and more slender than most other common North American Buteos. This bird is sometimes also confused with the widespread red-tailed hawk. That species is larger and bulkier, with more even-sized, broad wings and is paler underneath, with a reddish tail often apparent.
They can be found almost anywhere in Connecticut, often hunting in the suburbs and forest.