Appearing Soon – Rough-legged Hawks

Roughie perched on a mile marker postRough-legged Hawk perched on a mile marker post – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 1000, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 321mm, natural light, not baited

The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing color, mornings are getting frosty and snow is starting to fall in the high country. These things remind me that old Man Winter is about to arrive and along with him the Rough-legged Hawks (Buteo lagopus) will soon appear.

Last winter was awesome for seeing Rough-legged Hawks and I am hoping they had another great breeding season and that they will show up here in large numbers to over winter. Most of the Rough-legged Hawks I saw and photographed last year were juveniles, I’d sure like to see more adults this winter.

The juvenile above was perched on a mile marker along the causeway to Antelope Island State Park, I sure wish the post had been a natural perch.

Rough-legged Hawk juvenileRough-legged Hawk – Nikon D300, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light, not baited

Photographing Rough-legged Hawks last winter was so much fun because they were so numerous, some mornings I would see more than 25 in just a couple of hours.

Will this year bring us as many Rough-legged Hawks to the Salt Lake Valley? That remains to be seen of course but I’ve been hearing reports of them getting closer to arrival.

I can’t wait!


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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 – I love the colors in both these photos – such beautiful, soft backgrounds contrasting with the detailed crispness of the fluffy feathers. Just gorgeous, Mia!

  2. Your portraits capture so much of the personality of the birds. These two photos bring these fellows to life so much I can almost see one moving…

  3. I think that is a constant feel I get viewing your photography ..that one sees the birds framed in a great natural setting shown in exquisite detail and great lighting. And even your associated text is informative and entertaining.
    When I look at the pictures, I do not really see ‘pictures'; I see the birds as if they were right there in front of me.. ( which also saves me quite a bit in gas money viewing them this way ;).

    • Stu, what I hope for; and what you have stated you feel, is that when people view my images that they feel they are right there with the subject. Thank you for saying that you feel that.

  4. What fantastic photos, I have only seen a Rough-legged hawk once in the wild and I saw a kettle of them through my binos once, I sure hope you get to see many of them this year.

  5. Just gorgeous photos, Mia, so detailed and clear that I feel like I could touch his feathers. I look forward to your daily email posts, you do terrific work!

  6. Beautiful photos, I wished that I could be as close as you were Mia. Good luck with this year.

    • Bob, I was very close to the bird on the mile marker, when I knew it was going to lift off I had to zoom all the way back to 200mm and even then still clipped some wingtips! Thanks for your comment.

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