My housemate and I have been enjoying the return of a pair of red-shouldered hawks earlier this year. This species tends to be loyal not only to each other but also to their nest site, which in this case is an elderly white oak tree about a hundred feet east of the house.

The site is in a crotch between two sturdy limbs and the oak’s trunk, about 50 feet up — the perfect spot for this species. The tree is also just yards from a neighbor’s hay field and another stretch of forest, so plenty of hunting options are nearby. While we can watch the hawks while we eat breakfast, binoculars are required to see any details, and with the sun rising behind them in the morning, the birds are often just silhouettes.


A red-shouldered hawk watches the scene below from a broken tree trunk at Algonkian Nature Preserve, Loudoun County.


Red-shouldered hawks usually nest high in trees, like this elderly white oak. The nest is in a crotch near the top of the photo, with the female’s tail sticking up out of it.


A red-shouldered hawk in flight during Waggoner's Gap Hawk Watch, Pennsylvania.

Writer, editor, photographer, and passionate nature conservationist living in Rappahannock County, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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