This beautiful raptor's red breast, barred black wings, and namesake ruddy shoulders often make it difficult to distinguish from its cousin, the Red-tailed, which sometimes preys on the smaller Red-shouldered. The hawk also has a fairweather relationship with the American Crow: Though the crow sometimes mobs the hawk, a common corvid aggression behavior, at other times the two have been observed to join forces to drive their mutual enemy, the Great Horned Owl, from the hawk’s territory. Though the Red-shouldered is a species of least concern—populations can be found in woodland areas across many parts of Mexico and the US—it is vulnerable to habitat destruction from forest clearing and pesticides.
This image was a Top 100 photo from the 2011 Audubon Magazine Photography Awards. To see all of the photos, click here.