Red-shouldered Hawk Reports

Red-shoulder Hawk nestlingsThe first DABC Red-shouldered Hawk surveys began in the early 1970s. At this time the Iowa Ornithologists Union believed that "the beleaguered Red-shoulder is apparently making its last stand in the few sites in Northeast Iowa." Our early surveys revealed that the reproductive success of the few nests we located was a healthy 60-70% and that the hawks returned to the same territories in subsequent years. From 1982 through 2012 we conducted a basic inventory of RSHA territories along the entire Driftless Area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, cataloguing 58 territories. Since 1999 our survey efforts have been focused within Clayton and Allamakee Counties in northeast Iowa and a few territories near the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. We also monitor a few territories in Pools 11 and 12. Learning the RSHA habits, phenology, habitat preferences and especially language has been critical to our investigations. Patience and recognizing subtle language cues are key to our survey methods. In recent years we have observed impending threats to RSHA nesting success. These include prolonged climate-related innundation of waterways and increased Bald Eagle occupation of their prefered habitats. Continued study is needed to evaluate these environmental factors' impact to this "Species of Greatest Conservation Need."