During some of the most changeable times in my life, the Red-Shouldered Hawk seems to come for a visit. One of the most memorable times was after my dad passed away. Only a day after his funeral, I was standing in my childhood room, looking out at the forest like I did thousands of times before.
Movement on the deck one floor below caught my attention. There, standing only about 20 feet from me in the window was a huge Red-Shouldered Hawk staring up at me. We stood there for several minutes, holding each other's gaze - mine definitely in astonishment. Eventually, he heard a call of something else in the woods, bolted up, and flew away. This would not be the only time I (or anyone else at the house) would have closer encounters with this particular hawk.
To consider what message an animal totem is bringing to me, I like to look at their natural characteristics. They're quite large, although slightly smaller than the Red-Tailed Hawk and Eagle. Hawks are the avian messengers of the day, while owls are the messengers of the night. Thus, they tend to have a coordinating hawk/owl matching. Many times these "matchings" even share the same habitat with ease, simply overlapping their time at hawk and dusk. The "matching" owl for the Red-Shouldered Hawk is the Barred Owl.
Red-Shouldered Hawks eat small mammals, reptiles, smaller birds, large insects, and even crayfish in some regions. They can live to be somewhere between 15-20 years old in the wild and their range stretched throughout the eastern United States and into Mexico. In the largest part of their range, they're year-round residents... like here in Missouri. They are monogamous and tend to return to the same nesting spot year after year.
Hawks, like all birds, are messengers of the spirit world. Someone is trying to get your attention. They demonstrate great focus and assertiveness. They also represent having clear vision, seeing across distance and around camouflage. Their message might being saying that a strong connection with spirit or your broader awareness is available. Red-Shouldered Hawks are strong, determined, and steadfast, ushering in new levels of awareness and discerning forward movement.
For me in this situation, it felt very clear that my dad was a part of this hawk message. He was there, the spirit world is always working closely with us, and the magic and mysteries of life are more a part of our everyday lives than we sometimes know. My world was changing pretty dramatically with his leaving it, too, and I would be shouldering a new kind of responsibility and awareness than I'd ever had before.
Interestingly, my mom still lives on that land. Her neighbor reported that this dear resident of their forest was found dead, attacked by something else, then carried away after the neighbor came back a few minutes later. During this time of great change and energetic transformation/significance for individuals and the world as a whole, the era of this magnificent hawk was brought to an end. There seems to be a new Eagle next nearby where the Red-Shouldered Hawk was found - a likely culprit in its death.
There are messages of transition and transformation around us every day. A new era is being ushered in: timely, sometimes uncomfortable, yet quite significant and magnificent.