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The Red-shouldered Hawk, a striking raptor found in the Mule Mountains near Bisbee, Arizona, is known for its distinctive plumage and captivating presence. This bird of prey has adapted well to the diverse habitats offered in this region, showcasing unique behaviors and characteristics that set it apart from other hawk species.

Description and Identification

Physical Characteristics

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized hawk, notable for its rich, rufous-colored shoulders that contrast sharply with its dark, checkered wings and pale underparts. Adults typically measure between 17 to 24 inches in length with a wingspan ranging from 37 to 43 inches. These hawks have sharp, hooked beaks and powerful talons, suited for hunting.

Plumage and Markings

In terms of plumage, adult Red-shouldered Hawks boast a distinctive pattern. The upper parts are a deep, rufous brown, while the breast is a paler shade. The wings, when spread, reveal a striking pattern of black and white bands. The tail has narrow white bars, providing a unique identification marker.

Habitat and Range in Bisbee

Preferred Environment

In the Mule Mountains region, these hawks prefer riparian woodlands, mixed deciduous forests, and areas where open spaces blend with woodlands. They are often found near water sources, such as streams or rivers, which provide ample hunting opportunities.

Range and Territory

The Red-shouldered Hawk in the Bisbee area is a resident species, meaning it does not migrate and maintains a territory year-round. These territories often encompass large areas of mixed forest and open land, providing the necessary resources for feeding and nesting.

Behavior and Diet

Hunting Habits

Red-shouldered Hawks are skilled hunters, primarily preying on small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. They have a unique hunting style, often perching silently on a high vantage point before swooping down on unsuspecting prey.


These hawks are also known for their distinctive calls, which are often described as a series of kee-yah sounds, particularly vocal during the breeding season.

Breeding and Nesting

Nesting Sites

Red-shouldered Hawks in Bisbee typically choose tall trees for nesting, favoring spots that offer a clear view of the surrounding area. Their nests are large structures made of sticks and lined with bark and leaves.

Breeding Season

The breeding season typically begins in early spring. These hawks are monogamous and often return to the same nesting area each year.

Conservation Status

Current Status

The Red-shouldered Hawk is not currently listed as endangered or threatened in the Bisbee region. However, habitat loss and environmental changes pose potential risks to their population.

Conservation Efforts

Local conservation efforts focus on preserving natural habitats and monitoring bird populations to ensure the species' continued presence in the Mule Mountains.


The Red-shouldered Hawk in Bisbee, Arizona, is a remarkable bird of prey, contributing significantly to the region's biodiversity. Through ongoing conservation efforts and habitat preservation, this majestic raptor continues to thrive in the Mule Mountains, captivating bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

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