[CT Birds] Ratio of Red-shouldered to Red-tailed

David F Provencher david.f.provencher at dom.com
Mon Mar 18 12:00:31 EDT 2013

Perception plays an enormous role in human beliefs. We tend to believe what we see ourselves. More difficult is trying to determine whether our perceptions are in agreement, wholly or partially, with a larger reality. It is perfectly normal to feel a particular species' overall population is either greater or smaller than it truly is based on our personal experience. With regards to the CT populations of these two species, Red-shouldered Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk, there might also be some seasonal behavioral changes that influence to our perceptions. In winter, we humans spend most of our time out of doors driving. At least away from our residences that is. That is true for me as well even though I try and hike a minimum of 100 miles every month. So our perceptions of the abundance of these buteos may well be based significantly on observations made around roads and residential areas. In winter, Red-shouldered Hawks are much more likely to be seen in these areas than they are during the summer. I also agree with Jason, based on my experience both in CT and beyond that Shouldereds are more tolerant of proximity to humans than Red-taileds. Nearly all the Red-shouldereds I have seen this winter have been while I was driving or I was walking roadways through residential areas. But the Red-taileds I have seen have been roughly evenly split between those areas and the forest interiors that I spend so much time in. Actually I have seen several more Barred Owls in the woods this winter than I have seen Red-shouldered Hawks. But I have seen a Red-shouldered sitting in a small ornamental tree, only 5 feet off the ground, on a suburban lawn while traffic and pedestrians passed very close by it.

It is good question our perceptions. The expansion of human knowledge depends upon doubt. Jason asking the question spurred a bunch of us to respond, and caused me to stop and think about something I would not have otherwise. After he asked the question I went for a hike in Salem wondering which Buteos I would see and how many I would see. I saw none! But I did see my second of the year inland Osprey pass over.


David Provencher
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