More Raptor Rapture – Red-tailed Hawk Juvenile

/, Davis County, Red-tailed Hawks, Utah/More Raptor Rapture – Red-tailed Hawk Juvenile

About to landAbout to land – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light, not baited

These juvenile Red-tailed Hawk images were taken on two consecutive days last week. I’m always excited to have a bird in my view finder and when I can photograph hawks for two days in a row… I feel raptor rapture.

A Red-tailed Hawk juvenile does not have the namesake “red-tail”; they will develop that as they mature, but they have the same beauty and power that the adults do.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk coming in for a landingJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk coming in for a landing – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 328mm, natural light, not baited

Fortunately for me on the two days I photographed this hawk it was intent on hunting and paid no mind to my presence as I focused on it from inside a mobile blind (pickup). It would perch for a bit while it scanned for prey and then swoop down into the grasses to search for it.

Perched juvenile Red-tailed HawkPerched juvenile Red-tailed Hawk – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

It is said that Red-tailed Hawks can spot a rodent from 100 feet in the air which to me is amazing because quite often there will be grasses or other vegetation that could partially obstruct the view of the prey. That is probably why a person with keen eyesight could earn the nickname “Hawk Eye”.

The moment of lift offThe moment of lift off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

By carefully observing this young Red-tailed Hawk’s behavior, body movements and by paying attention to its eyes I was able to anticipate when it would lift off. Learning how to do that is important for those action shots.

Look of determination on a juvenile Red-tailed HawkFocused look of determination on a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Focus” is a word I often think of when I am watching raptors hunt because it appears to me that they are entirely focused on their prey; after all, their lives depend on their hunting skills. This immature bird seems to miss more than it actually captures but it will develop better skills as it ages.

Juvenile Red-tailed looking at a new perchJuvenile Red-tailed looking at a new perch – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 321mm, natural light, not baited

I watched as this keen-eyed youngster located, captured and ate a small snake. I don’t have any images of it swallowing the snake because it was too far away and my view was obstructed by tall grasses and Moth Mullein stems. That was a disappointment, I would have loved to have had those images in my portfolio.

Red-tailed juvenile flying past a dark rock faceRed-tailed juvenile flying past a dark rock face – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 321mm, natural light, not baited

Look at those talons, the sharp hooked bill and the feathers that are built just right for carrying this handsome young Red-tailed Hawk through the air to capture and devour its prey. This is perfection.

Just me & my shadowBack view of the young Red-tailed Hawk and its shadow – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Normally I don’t keep images without eye contact from my subject but in this image I was fascinated by the landing pose, the great view of the spread wings, fanned tail, the intricate plumage patterns and the shadow below the hawk.

I am hoping that this juvenile hawk and it’s darker and more elusive sibling will continue to stick around the area where I located them so that I may have more “face melting” opportunities with these incredible birds. Yeah, they make my face melt from smiling so much.

I’m looking forward to more Raptor Rapture!

Mia

27 Comments

  1. Michael Wm Kaluta October 14, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Ms McPherson: do you realize you may be the *only* photographer to post a dorsal view, wings spread, landing Hawk of any variety? Superb, and I wish you’d post more. Thank You.

    • Mia McPherson October 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Michael,

      Thank you, I love the dorsal view of the young Red-tailed Hawk and even though I don’t have eye contact I can feel the power of this individual bird looking at this image. They are such impressive hawks.

      Best,
      Mia

  2. […] juvenile Red-tailed Hawks on Antelope Island State Park last week. This post is a continuation of More Raptor Rapture because it involves the same area that I photographed the previous immature hawks. At first this […]

  3. Linda Rockwell September 11, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Fabulous photos as ever Mia!!

    • Mia McPherson September 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks Linda, I had a fabulous subject.

  4. Dave Sparks September 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Mia:
    Great post. Wonderful photos. Now I know why you need periods of bad weather …. so your facial smiling muscles can recover.
    Dave

    • Mia McPherson September 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Dave,

      I do get a big case of face melt with birds and days not in the field probably do give my face time to recover! Thanks for commenting.

  5. Bob Zeller September 10, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Great captures of the raptor raptures, Mia. 🙂

  6. Julie Brown September 10, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Superb series-my faves are the second and last images!

    • Mia McPherson September 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks Julie, it was a great bird to photograph

  7. Bob Bushell September 10, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Brilliant Red-Tailed Hawk, I’ve never seen one, it’s the country I live in.

    • Mia McPherson September 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Thank you Bob, you have such beautiful raptors there too

  8. Debbie Miller @HooootOwl September 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    As always, really beautiful images! I especially love the view with the shadow.

  9. Susan September 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Wow a fantastic series of images, wishing I could have been there:)

    • Mia McPherson September 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Thank you Susan. I wish you could have been there too.

  10. Syd Phillips September 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Although, the bottom shot doesn’t have eye contact, the unique silhouette that its shadow makes is a great trade! -plus all the other cool things you pointed out. But, the shadow was the first thing that caught my eye. All great shots!

    • Mia McPherson September 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Thank you Syd. Every once in awhile the “rules” should be broken especially of the image has impact.

  11. M. Firpi September 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Great sequence, and story-telling here, frame #2 is an amazing poster print.

  12. Kathleen Finnerty September 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

    I do concur with your last image. I’m amazed that a 6.3 DOF also brought in the rock and that feathery vegetation on the left. The shadow almost makes the photo. My fav is the one right before that. Any image “on the wing” (excuse the pun) is always a winner to me!!! 🙂

    • Mia McPherson September 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Kathy, I love your pun! Thanks so much for your comment.

  13. Carol Mattingly September 9, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Simply beautiful. NO other words are needed. Carol

    • Mia McPherson September 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      Thank you Carol, I think this subject is a beauty!

  14. Syl September 9, 2012 at 7:57 am

    These photos simply said takes your breath away..The detail of your photos and the grace and elegance of this juvy..are just amazing..thank you so much for sharing..We have a Red-tail Hawk that hangs in our neighborhood and his favorite perch is an old dead pine tree..we always look for him as we drive by..he is never very far away…have a super Sunday..God Bless

    • Mia McPherson September 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks Syl, seeing this/these beauty(ies) in the field always takes my breath away for a few seconds.

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