Rough-legged Hawk lifting offRough-legged Hawk lifting off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Rough-legged Hawks are among my favorites of the raptors that over winter in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah because I only see them at this time of the year while they wait to head back to the subarctic and Arctic to breed. This winter I have seen fewer Rough-legged Hawks than I have in past winters which may be due to a crash in the vole population but that is just supposition on my part.

I photographed this Rough-legged Hawk last January at the moment it lifted off from a kestrel nest box at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area. I like how this image shows the feathered tarsi (legs) which give this hawk its name and also shows the length of their long wings.

There are just a few more weeks before these winter visitors begin their migration north to their breeding grounds so I hope to take many images of them before they go.