Rough-legged Hawk lifting off

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.


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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. Wonderful photo! I just saw my first Rough-legged Hawk earlier this month.

  2. Beauty!

  3. Beautiful Mia, one of my favorite raptors too! Love the feathered legs.

  4. Stunning photograph of this beauty getting airborne! Simply superb, Mia! I’m, of course, jealous we don’t have them in Florida.

  5. Wow Mia, I honestly have never seen a take off photo from this angle! I love it. I’ve noticed low numbers of RLHA this year as well.

  6. My greedy self also hopes you get to take many more photos of them in the coming weeks. An incredible bird.

  7. Sharp photo, Mia! You captured him beautifully.

  8. Interesting capture and info. Thanks Mia — hope you had a happy Christmas; it certainly was a white one in Utah.

  9. Wonderful! I wonder whose house that is….?

  10. Perfect timing. I like seeing the legs and feet in this position.

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