Friday Photos: A Friendly Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk portrait
Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) portrait with the Great Salt Lake in the background

Antelope Island State Park, Davis County, Utah
Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/750, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Last Friday I came upon this Swainson’s Hawk; not just once but twice,  perched on signs very close to the road. While seeing a hawk perched on a sign isn’t all that unusual (in fact it happens quite often) having it remain on the signs while getting close enough to photograph the bird’s portrait is.

This hawk didn’t seem to mind my presence using a mobile blind (vehicle). It preened, stretched and gazed at the surrounding area. It stayed on this perch for over 5 minutes while I photographed it until a small motor home pulled up to view the bird and then it flew off.

 Swainson's Hawk perched on a speed limit sign

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) perched on a speed limit sign
Antelope Island State Park, Davis County, Utah
Nikon D200, f8, 1/350, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 200mm, natural light, not baited

Normally I prefer to take images of birds perched on natural features though I do take advantage of situations like this one to get close up shots of birds perched on manmade objects. I find the top photo more appealing to my tastes because it doesn’t contain the speed limit sign.  I love seeing the Great Salt Lake, Egg Island and distant mountains in the image above yet I sure wish that the speed limit sign had been an old tree stump or other natural object.

Another time perhaps.

(By the way, the speed limit sign is actually that crooked!)


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Wow! That 200-400 Vr with the Tc-14 does wonders in the right hands… Your images look very sharp.

  2. Just a perfect portrait Mia! I love how you can just barely see the other eye and the perfect catch-light in the right eye, but the detail in the feathers is quite awesome!!

  3. That first photo is amazing! Just gorgeous…

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