Back in November I had the opportunity to photograph this Ferruginous Hawk in the west desert of Utah, the hawk was very wary so I was unable to make as close of an approach as I would have liked. The day was hazy and slightly overcast from some high thin clouds, I really didn’t have the best of conditions but that never seems to keep me from testing my skills. The Ferruginous Hawk was perched on an old fencepost that had a lot of character because it was weatherworn and it wasn’t a manufactured post. In the photo above the hawk was lifting its wings not to take flight but to stretch them.
After the wing lift the hawk had a bit of a time getting balanced on the post again so it fluttered its wings as its feet gripped the uneven surface of the post. That gave me a nice view of the rusty colored feathered legs, they remind me of old fashioned jodhpurs that horseback riders used to wear which were very loose at the thigh and tight around the lower legs.
Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) preparing for lift off
Nikon D300, f5.6, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
There aren’t many people in the west desert of Utah thus the raptors and other birds that live there are not habituated to people so they are very skittish even when using a mobile blind. In less than a minute after gaining its balance on the old fence post this regal raptor decided to lift off and fly out over the grassy, sagebrush covered plain to the east.
I love the quiet found in the west desert, the whispering of the grasses in a slight breeze and the wide open skies.
When the Ferruginous Hawk first lifted off it had its face turned slightly away from me but it did give me this one final image that had a nice look at its eye and a wonderful view of those beautifully colored feathered legs.
I wish the light had been a bit better that day but Ferruginous Hawks are year round residents here so I’ll just look for more opportunities to photograph the handsome hawks.