Written by Bryan Watts and Elizabeth Mojica
March 4, 2010
The red-shouldered hawk has a broad geographic range thoughout eastern North America and along the Pacific Coast. The species reaches its highest breeding density within the mixed floodplain forests of the southeast where it feeds on a diverse diet including amphibians and reptiles. Red-shouldereds are generally believed to be a good indicator species for the health of floodplain forests. In addition, they have adapted to urban life and so are one of the most observable forest raptors in the East.
In spring 2010, the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) initiated a new research project with red-shouldered hawks in an 8-county region surrounding Richmond and Williamsburg, including the extensive floodplain forests of the James River. A primary objective of the project is to begin to build a baseline dataset capable of estimating key demographic parameters including reproductive rates, juvenile survival rates, and adult survival rates. Nests are monitored to determine success and reproductive rates and nestlings are banded at 30 days old with a metal leg band on the right leg and a plastic red band on the left leg. The colored band has a unique alpha-numeric code which can be read with binoculars or digital photography.
CCB recruited volunteers from the Richmond Audubon Society, Williamsburg Bird Club, and the Virginia Master Naturalists (Riverine and Historic Rivers chapters). Fifteen nests were monitored throughout the breeding season and volunteers documented copulation, incubation, feeding of young, and fledging of young.
A workshop is planned for January 2011 to train new volunteers in nest searching and monitoring techniques. Interested members of the public can contact conbio (at) wm.edu or call 757-221-1645 for additional information.
Project sponsored by the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB), and supported by volunteers from:
Richmond Audubon Society
Virginia Master Naturalist, Riverine Chapter, Hanover County
Virginia Master Naturalist, Historic Rivers Chapter, JCC, Williamsburg, York counties
Williamsburg Bird Club