Ferruginous Hawk in Tooele County, Utah

 Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) wing lift

 Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) wing lift –  Nikon D300, f5.6, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

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.

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) getting balanced on perch

 Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) getting balanced on perch –  Nikon D300, f5.6, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

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

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.

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) lift off

 Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) lift off -  Nikon D300, f5.6, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

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.

Mia

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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.

17 Comments

  1. Very beautiful photos Mia!

  2. Fantastic shots Mia, your photos really stun me each time I view them, just so well captured. Also love your sharing the settings, for instance never shot anything at 1/1600 just 1/500 is fastest. makes me want to do some more shooting :)

    dan

    • Hi Dan!

      Thank you for you comment on these images! I think it is important to show my settings when I post images so that people can see what techs were used to get the shot. For birds in flight or lifting off I always try to keep my shutter speed up over at least 1/1000 because the action can happen so fast and I try to freeze it. Shooting in aperture priority I can boost my ISO to get more shutter speed and changing my aperture can help too.

  3. These photos are stunning, Mia.

  4. Excellent photos Mia! I love watching birds balance on small perches!

  5. Stunning photographs again, Mia. I hope to see one of these at the end of the month when I venture out to the Big Bend area of west Texas.

  6. I’ve never seen this Hawk either. Beautiful bird, very primordial looking.

  7. Fantastic shots! I still have never seen one. Maybe one day…

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