Red-shouldered Hawk from Sawgrass Lake Park, Florida

Adult Red-shouldered HawkAdult Red-shouldered Hawk – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/125, ISO 200, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light, not baited

There are five recognized subspecies of Red-shouldered Hawks with the Florida Red-shouldered Hawks having the palest heads and plumage, I believe this adult is from the Florida race, Buteo lineatus extimus. (Correct me if I am wrong)

Sawgrass Lake County Park in Pinellas County, Florida was a terrific location for me to see and photograph Red-shouldered Hawks, the habitat included mixed deciduous-coniferous woodlands, flooded deciduous swamps, plenty of dead trees for them to perch on to hunt from and plentiful prey for them to eat.

Red-shouldered Hawk eat a wide variety of prey including small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, small birds, invertebrates and crayfish.

I don’t think I can recall a single visit to Sawgrass Lake Park where I didn’t see or hear Red-shouldered Hawks. I think their eyes are huge compared to the size of their heads.

Because I am currently living in Utah I do not get to see or photograph Red-shouldered Hawks because they are infrequently spotted here. I still miss hearing them or seeing them swoop down from a perch to capture prey but there are plenty of Red-tailed Hawks that fill that void.


* Where am I? I can’t say for sure but I can definitely say I am away. If you would like to share this post with family and friends please feel welcome to do so.

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. BEAUTIFUL! I didn’t realize you don’t have them in Utah much. They are one of my favorites. Do you ever get out to California? There are many out here, plus a very large population of a variety of raptors.

  2. I think that the larger eyes give this species of hawk a different look.

  3. This is an amazing photo. What a beautiful bird.

  4. How absolutely beautiful. I associate disproportionately big eyes with nocturnal birds. And am obviously wrong. Again.
    Thank you for continuing my avian education.

  5. Gorgeous Hawk + Fabulous Photo + GREAT EYE CANDY!!

  6. Mia, superb photograph, naturally!

    It’s been a treat this year to seek out the breeding status of the Red-shouldered Hawk in central Florida and to discover how robust the population is currently. They have been very good at adapting to diverse habitat.

  7. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    This photo is wonderful… The bird and the branch so clearly focused and the way the background is out of focus just enough to give a real feeling for the area. Not only is the red-shouldered hawk a stunning bird, but you’ve presented a tactile pleasure for us …. Many thanks.

  8. Excellent Photo. When I first glanced at the unexpanded photo segment showing, I thought I was seeing a Gila Woodpecker or maybe Flicker due to the patterns. The detail and coloring around the bill is amazingly detailed.

  9. I never noticed their eye/head ratio before, Mia. Your photo really shows this. What a beautiful image of a gorgeous bird!

  10. It is fabulous, great photo too.

  11. Beautiful shot as usual Mia. I really appreciate you sharing the technical info with us. I am trying to improve my photography and this really helps me learn.

  12. It’s a handsome bird, and I agree about the large eyes. I watched a Wedge-tailed Eagle this afternoon being attacked by a Little Raven. It’s a hard life being a raptor sometimes.

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