Flip – Red-shouldered Hawk
Received: May 2009
Flip came to our Wildlife Hospital in May of 2009 with a broken wing. The break was stabilized, and healed over time; however, it quickly became clear that this break had done damage to some of the follicles from which his primary flight feathers grow. The primaries are the outermost wing feathers. This damage caused these feathers to be…well…flipped, and grow in upside down. This situation has made Flip unable to fly and therefore unreleasable. He is, otherwise, a healthy young bird with a healthy dose of attitude.
Flip’s first interactions with people were pretty negative. He had to be medicated and examined during his stay in the hospital. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell these sick and injured birds that you’re only trying to help them. Because of these negative contacts one of our staff members took it upon herself to work with Flip and gain his trust. Many days were spent getting him to be comfortable eating with her in view. Soon she worked up to him taking food from her glove, and eventually to him stepping up on the glove to eat. I can’t tell you the joy that comes from that first day where you start to see some tentative trust from the bird. So, on your next visit to the World Bird Sanctuary, be sure to check out the row of perches just past the Wildlife Hospital and say hello to Flip. He’ll be the chatty one on the first perch. I know you’ll all find him as adorable as we do!
Species: Red-shouldered Hawk
Latin Name: Buteo lineatus
Description: medium-large bird of prey; plumage predominantly brown with a high degree of speckling, with a wide variation in plumage patterns including light and dark morphs and color variations between males, females and juveniles; all plumages include long white tail feathers with one or more dark subterminal bands; wing tips are long enough to reach or extnd past the tail when perched; feet are feathered to the toes (hence the name); talons are relatively small; a broad brown chestband is present in most plumages with a square dark carpal patch contrasting with the white under-wing in light morph individuals
Sex: females slightly larger than males
Age: oldest known wild bird 22 years and 5 months
Length: male 15″-23″; female 19″-24″
Weight: 1-2.1 lbs.
Habitat: primarily forest raptors; tend to live in stands of trees with an open subcanopy; sometimes found in suburban areas with large trees
Status: globally stable; populations in the East have declined after forests were cleared; listed as endangered, threatened or species of special concern in many eastern U.S. states; in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin numbers have fallen as much as 90 percent from historic estimates
Range: Eastern half of the United States and Western California
Behavior: when mating the male does a “sky dance” in which he soars while calling, then makes a series of steep dives toward the female, climbing back up in wide spirals after each descent, before finally rapidly diving to perch upon her back; both birds build a stick nest about 2 ft. in diameter lined with bark, moss & lichens; female lays 2-5 dull white or bluish eggs with brown blotches and markings; eggs hatch in 32-40 days; young hawks fledge about 45 days later; parents continue to feed young until they are about 17-19 weeks old
Diet: small mammals such as mice and voles; reptiles, amphibians, birds and insects
Vocalization: distinctive, screaming kee-aah while establishing territories
- Birds in central and southern states are non-migratory; birds of the Northeast and northern Midwest migrate to more southerly states for the winter; West Coast birds mostly nonmigratory
- Red-shouldered Hawks have been known to join forces with Crows to attack and drive away Great horned Owls — a mutual predator