Not a day goes by that I don’t see or hear a red-shouldered hawk here at the Museum. I’ve been allowed to observe them hunting and courting. I’ve been able to get close looks at them in various plumages and molts. I’ve even seen them catch a variety of prey as diverse as frogs and toads, snakes, rats, and even fish.
It’s my opinion that red-shouldereds will eat whatever comes their way, as long as it’s not too large to catch and carry away. I’m not sure of the upper size limitations, how large a prey item has to be before it’s taken off the menu, but I believe they will give consideration to anything that moves into view. Everything from insects to rabbits, and certainly young of most any small to medium sized mammal, including ferrel cats, o’possum, raccoon, and more may be on the carte du jour.
The next time you’re strolling around Explore the Wild or Catch the Wind, or even your favorite hiking trail, and you see a shoulder sitting motionless on a branch, fence post, or power pole and its staring down at the ground, stop and give it your attention. Stand quietly and watch the bird for a while. The bird is hunting, looking for movement down below. Your patience may be rewarded by being witness to the bird catching a snake, a frog, a cotton rat, or even a squirrel.