Red-tailed Hawks - Mates for LifeRed-tailed Hawks – Mates for Life – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/400, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited, taken in 2012

For several years now I have been observing and photographing a mated pair of Red-tailed Hawks in the Centennial Valley of southwestern Montana that have a favorite perch that I often see them on.  Red-tailed Hawks are monogamous and will mate for life and will only move on to a new mate if the other one dies.

The hawks above are migratory because the winters in the Centennial Valley are harsh and the ground is often covered in deep snow which makes it extremely difficult for them to find enough prey to survive. I have often wondered if mated pairs of Red-tailed Hawks migrate together and I would be interested to know if they do.

Centennial Valley Red-tailed HawksMontana Centennial Valley Red-tailed Hawks – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 321mm, natural light, not baited, taken in 2013

John Taft who lives near this perch has seen a mated pair in the same location for about 30 years, I believe since Red-tailed Hawks only live about 22 years in the wild that he has observed more than one mated pair perching in this tree.

Each year the migratory Red-tailed Hawks come back to the same area to mate and raise their young, vigorously defending their territory from other hawks and owls.

I think it is amazing that monogamous birds such as this mated pair of Red-tailed Hawks that are migratory are able to find their way back to each other and their breeding territory.  But then.. nature is amazing.