Swainson’s Hawk (FOY)

/, Box Elder County, Swainson's Hawks, Utah/Swainson’s Hawk (FOY)

Perched Swainson's Hawk adultPerched Swainson’s Hawk adult – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Last week while searching for Golden Eagles to photograph in Box Elder County, Utah I spotted two Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) adults; my first of the year sightings, the first one perched on a power pole.  Normally I prefer perches that are not so obviously man made but I was hoping for some lift off shots.

Adult Swainson's Hawk lifting offAdult Swainson’s Hawk lifting off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

In this next frame the hawk did just that, it lifted off.

Swainson's Hawk spreading its wingsSwainson’s Hawk spreading its wings – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Taking off from the power pole it didn’t take long for the Swainson’s to spread out its magnificent wings. It was looking at something across the road to the east where a farmer was working in a field. The farmer may have been stirring up insects or causing small rodents to scurry across the soil in plain view of the raptor.

Swainson's Hawk in flight Swainson’s Hawk in flight – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Instead of grabbing prey from the field the hawk wheeled over it and headed back towards the perch it had left only moments before.

Swainson's concentrating on its landing perchSwainson’s concentrating on its landing perch – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

This Swainson’s seemed to prefer perching on the thin wire attached to the power pole rather than on top of it, I imagine that it takes concentration to land on such a tiny perch.

Swainson's Hawk prior to landingSwainson’s Hawk prior to landing – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Here the perch was just slightly above where the hawk was. I wish the angle of the light had lit up the underside of the bird better, but I am still happy with this pose, the sky/cloud background and the intense look of concentration in the eye of the Swainson’s.

Swainson's Hawk about to landSwainson’s Hawk about to land – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Wow, I love this pose and wish I could have gotten it without the wires in the background.

Swainson's Hawk flying awaySwainson’s Hawk flying away – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Another Swainson’s Hawk came in and landed on top of one of the power poles nearby and although I took images of  it, the angle was rather steep.

Then the Swainson’s that had landed on the wire took off and I was able to get this image as it flew past.

I’m hoping to have many more opportunities to photograph Swainson’s Hawks this year both in Utah and Montana, heck just about anywhere I can find them!

Mia

* I am away for a few days so I have scheduled this post ahead of time. Please feel free to share it.

21 Comments

  1. eric c11 November 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    wonderfull moment, well catched mia ☺

  2. Dan Huber April 18, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Wonderful images Mia. I love the details of the feathers as it is landing. Wonderful bird , congrats on the FOY 🙂

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Dan, thanks for your comment on the images of this Swainson’s Hawk!

  3. Scott April 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Great shots, Mia. My brother’s neighbor has had Swainson’s Hawks nesting in his back yard the last few years. Looking forward to their return.

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Scott, I am looking forward to seeing any images you photograph of the Swainson’s Hawks in your broher’s neighbor’s backyard! Thanks for your comment.

  4. Jim Miller April 17, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Beautiful work, Mia. I’m jealous.

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Thank you Jim, I’ve wanted images of adult Swainson’s Hawks for some time.

      I love the insect images on your blog!

  5. Carol Mattingly April 16, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    That last image is perfect Mia. But I also like the image where the hawk is first lifting off too. You have to wonder what it’s like doing that up so high. Guess we mere humans will never really know. Carol

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:31 am

      Thank you Carol. I had a lot of fun photographing this bird.

  6. Susan April 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Awesome photos Mia, love the Swainson’s Hawk. Every summer I see this hawk almost everywhere I go and enjoy it’s company immensely:)

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:30 am

      Susan, thanks for your comment on these Swainson’s Hawk images. I see Swainson’s more often in Montana than here in Utah but that might be because I frequent their normal habitats more in Montana than here.

  7. Tammy Karr April 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Stunning series of action photos!

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Thanks Tammy, I was in the right place at the right time!

  8. Mathew April 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Numbers 4, 5, 6, and 8 are truly impressive and probably the best photographs I have seen of this hawk. I also have an image of Swainson’s on my own website, and will copy the link here– http://sites.google.com/site/mmslouisb/sclaterargentinaxvi.jpg

    That image is a lithograph plate from ‘Argentine Ornithology’ by Philip Lutley Sclater and William Henry Hudson.

    Your photographs of landscapes and avian subjects are truly superb and I wish I could spend more time examining them! Though I find some of your comments suggestive of anthropomorphism (a “fearless” sage thrasher), nonetheless the pictures speak for themselves. It would be great to see how you photograph other types of hawks or birds, and your website could emerge as something of an online field guide. If you did not know, there is a record in nearby Colorado for the Variable Hawk of South American (Buteo polyosoma).

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:28 am

      Hi Mathew, thanks for your comment and for sharing the link to the lithograph plate on your site.

      My photo gallery website has far more images of hawks and other birds, they are in galleries similar to a guidebook, you can see those here.

  9. Stu April 16, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Great shots Mia.. and also a great narrative on what was going on at the time!

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:14 am

      Thanks as always for your comments Stu.

  10. Prairie Birder April 16, 2012 at 10:15 am

    These are gorgeous photos Mia! I can’t wait for the Swainson’s Hawks to return so I can photograph them.

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Thank you PrairiBirder, they are very handsome raptors.

  11. Jim Braswell April 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Nice, Mia! Love the landing shots.

    • Mia McPherson April 18, 2012 at 8:10 am

      Thank you Jim, the hawk was very cooperative!

Comments are closed.