Please note: The Ontario population is estimated at less than 7000 pairs down from a population of approximately 10,000 pairs pre 1980.
- Distinctive red hood, white under body with white and black back and rump.
- Wings are black with large white patches. These patches are prominent in flight.
- 22-25 cm in size.
- Female is identical but slightly smaller.
Habits and Reproduction
- Over winter in south-western Texas and return by the end of May.
- Widespread but rare in southern Ontario.
- Aggressive and will drive off Blue Jays.
- Eat insects, nuts, fruit, eggs, and nestlings of other birds.
- Oak acorns and beech nuts can be important part of diet.
- Males choose nest sites. They prefer cavities in a dead or partially dead deciduous tree, but will nest in living trees, hollow posts and utility poles.
- Adults often return to nest in the same cavity, the same tree or the immediate area.
- Females lay a clutch of 4 to 7 eggs between May and July.
- Both parents sit on the eggs and later tend the hatchlings.
- Open deciduous forests, such as oak savannah with large mature trees.
- Habitat loss due to forestry and agricultural practices, dead tree removal, road mortality and competitions from European Starlings for nesting sites.
- Loss of habitat in wintering grounds also a factor.
- If it is safe to do so, leave large dead trees standing on your property. This will provide food and shelter for a range of species from woodpeckers, to owls and flying squirrels.
- Consider participating in the Red Shouldered Hawk and Spring Woodpecker Survey.