Panther Island Adventures!

Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Critter of the Week: Red-shouldered Hawk

One of my favorite birds is also one of Panther Island's most common, the red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus). These vocal raptors feed primarily on small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, often going after the more sluggish and therefore more easily captured prey. While they prefer hunting from They prefer woodland habitats near water. They typically nest in large mature trees that have good canopy cover. Nests themselves are large bowls made of sticks, bark, dried leaves, Spanish moss, and lichens and also line their nests with Spanish moss, lichen, and fine bark. Clutch sizes range from 2-5 eggs, and the eggs hatch after approximately 33 days. An interesting tidbit is that by 5 days old, the young birds are able to shoot their feces over the edge of the nest! So if there is a nest around, look for bird guano on the ground to see if it is active.
There are actually 5 subspecies of red-shouldered hawk. The four eastern forms have ranges that abutt, but the western form is separated by 1000 miles from the "easterns". Two of the 4 subspecies breed in Florida. From the panhandle to Lake Okeechobee is Buteo lineatus alleni. In southern Florida and the Keys, Buteo lineatus extimus ( which is smaller and paler) breeds. When identifying these birds in flight, look for distinctive pal translucent crescents across the outer primaries.

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