A scruffy sub-adult Swainson’s Hawk

A scruffy sub-adult Swainson's HawkA scruffy sub-adult Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light, not baited

My friend Jerry said “MORE RAPTORS!” when I posted a male Red-winged Blackbird two days ago… so Jerry here is one for you! One very scruffy looking sub-adult Swainson’s coming right up!

Seriously, I wish I understood more about molting with many of the raptors including Swainson’s Hawk and perhaps if I ever find some free time I will attempt to study molt patterns more closely. Guess I just need to hang with Jerry more often. ;-)

Yep, this Swainson’s Hawk is scruffy and ragged. It also looks shabby, frayed, tattered and worn out and it still looks handsome to me. Kind of like the guys I know who spend hours in the field getting scruffy while photographing birds.


Additional posts you might enjoy:

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. Thanks Bryce!!!!

  2. Hi! Great work keep up your wonderful Blog page! Have a good shooting day.

  3. Such a neat photo Mia. If you’re interested in nailing down an understanding of raptor molt, Jerry is the guy to learn from!

  4. Thanks Mia! I’m so happy you obliged my needs and wants. Your the best.

  5. In my biased eyes, his scruffiness is beautiful. Which I think stemmed from my father’s teaching – ‘if it does the job for which it was designed, it is beautiful’.
    As this bird is.
    Thank you – and I always love raptor britches.

  6. I am intrigued by your comment about the when and why of of raptor’s molting. Please post if you go deeper into this. I see some hilarious magpies at the end of summer when some look ghoulish because there is no neck except for the skeleton and they are bald-there is safety in numbers.i wonder if the raptors hide out a little. I like the photo as it definitely has character and displays an important part of life and should be included with the “prettier” photos. Chuckled about the ruffled birders/photographers-so true.

  7. sooo much detail.. I really do not know how you manage to have everything focused and well lit in your photographs! excellent

  8. I think this bird is gorgeous!!! I love the “dirty” birds anyway/ the young speckled ones…like the juvenile eagle’ some of us call “dirty birds”.

  9. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    So glad you posted this today… I’m feeling scruffy too… although your Swainson’s looks a whole lot better than I do. You can’t post enough raptors for me… I’m addicted to your marvelous photograph. For my Christmas Wish List: I wish you’d catch a LBJ (little brown job) in the sparrow family on the wing. Most people photo them perched and I’m grateful for those photos believe me.
    This Swainson’s photo is so wonderful… I’m marveling that the bird could fly so beautifully with that gap in its tail. Many thanks.

Comments are closed