Red-tailed Hawk juvenile – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 1000, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VT with 1.4x TC at 264mm, natural light, not baited, called in or set up
Yesterday we met up with Becka on Antelope Island to show her the location where we spotted yet another escaped falconry bird, a female American Kestrel. I’ll write more about the kestrel later. We left for the island later than normal because the light had been awful when we would usually head that way. The light was still bad when we reached the island but there was some clearing to the west of it so there was at least a possibility that there would be enough to get take some images of birds or animals.
After we showed Becka where we found the escaped American Kestrel we drove around looking for her and other raptors south of the Frary Peak turn off. On our way back north I spotted this immature Red-tailed Hawk high up on the rocks on a perch many birds have used as seen by the copious amounts of white-wash. When we drove up the juvenile Red-tail stayed calm as we passed it on the one lane road to get past it for a good light angle.
I certainly didn’t need ISO 1000 to photograph this young hawk, that was a setting I used earlier when the light was low. The hawk didn’t stay long, I only took 8 images of it before it lifted off facing away from us and then less than a minute later we saw it flying low to the ground below us with prey in its bill where it landed to dine on the vole it had captured.
I recall that when I first started photographing the juvenile Red-tailed Hawks in this area back in August that they missed their prey more times than they would capture it and now they seem to have gone the other way, they are catching the prey more than they are missing it.
A lot of people cheer for their favorite team or sports star, me; I’m cheering these young and amazing raptors on!
More Red-tailed Hawk images
While I was away in Montana for eight days starting last week I had a fantastic time photographing this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. I posted one image of it while on the road which can be seen here and I could barely wait to share more photos of it.
Perched juvenile Red-tailed Hawk – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 1000, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
When I first spotted the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) it was on a post eating prey, I will do a separate post about that later but for now I wanted to share these images. I liked the pose in this frame with the young hawk slightly fluffed up, standing on one leg with the other leg bent and the talons clenched.
Red-tailed Hawk juvenile shaking – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 1000, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
This image shows the juvenile shaking its feathers and lifting its wings. It sure shows off the gorgeous plumage patterns of the breast.
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk regaining its balance – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 1000, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
A little while later it looked like the Red-tailed juvenile lost its balance and tried to get it back. It lifted its wings and tilted forward in this frame.
Red-tailed Hawk juvenile in action – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 1000, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 321mm, natural light, not baited
I backed up my zoom a bit because I thought the hawk might take off if it couldn’t get its balance and captured this pose where it fanned out its tail and dropped one wing down while lifting the other up. The young Red-tailed did regain its balance.
Juvie Red-tailed Hawk right after lift off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 1000, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 321mm, natural light, not baited
It wasn’t long after the Red-tailed regained its balance before it lifted off from the fencepost, I caught this pose soon after it got into the air. Those legs look so very long in this photo.
Red-tailed Hawk looking at something in the distance – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 1000, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
The juvenile flew to another fencepost nearby and just looked around. I am not sure what it was looking at when I created this image but the pose reminds me of juvenile Burrowing Owls parallaxing.
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk at the moment of lift off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 1000, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
When the hawk took off the final time it did not give me the best eye contact with this pose but I like that I can see the eye and a catchlight plus the intensity of the look the bird has. I also like the position of the wings and the outstretched talons.
Red-tailed Hawk juvie gliding – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 1000, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
Normally I wouldn’t keep an image like this with so little eye contact from my subject but again there were things I liked about this frame, I like the fanned tail, the dropped legs and the nice view across the back and wings of the bird. I still can see the eye and the catchlight and I am pleased with that.
I’m sorry I haven’t had much time to look at and comment on all of your blogs, it will take me awhile to catch up with commenting, culling, resting and getting used to being back home. Stay tuned for more photos from my trip to Montana!
More Red-tailed Hawk images
These images of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) were taken on Sunday morning, June 22nd while leaving southwestern Montana to head back to Utah. Normally I don’t want to leave Montana but this time I really hated to go.
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk with wings spread – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
This very cooperative juvenile Red-tailed posed for 20 minutes on two different perches along the side of a gravel road on weatherworn fenceposts strung with barbed wire with a sage brush and grass-covered hill in the background.
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk diving for prey – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, natural light, not baited
At one point the juvenile dove towards the ground after prey but it didn’t capture it. I could have used a touch more shutter speed to freeze the motion of the wings though I like how the bit of blur adds to the feeling of movement.
Red-tailed Hawk juvenile – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
After missing the prey on the ground this young Red-tailed Hawk landed on another fencepost nearby and it appeared to be scanning the area for more prey. The raptor didn’t seem to be bothered at all by my long lens poking out of the pickup window and spent a little over a minute on this post before it lifted off in search for food.
Perched juvenile Red-tailed Hawk – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
The beauty of this hawk and the lovely setting is etched forever into my mind, actually the whole trip is! More to come about that soon.
More Red-tailed Hawk images
Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Sawgrass County Park, Pinellas County, Florida
Nikon D70, handheld, f5.6, 1/200, ISO unknown, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light, not baited, not a set up
Last week on a rainy day I reworked some older images from 2007 from when I was still photographing with my D70. This image is even older than the others I posted last week. I was only shooting in jpeg then and didn’t know how much better it was to use RAW. I’ve learned a lot since then!
This very cooperative juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk was used to the people who frequented Sawgrass County Park and it would land very close to humans. It landed on a roof of a pavillion very close to where I was standing so I took the opportunity to get some close up shots.
Now, knowing how much more I can do in RAW file in ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) I could kick myself for not having switched to RAW sooner because I could have more easily salvaged some of the shots I took where my exposure wasn’t just quite right.
It’s a beautiful raptor I think. I’m glad it landed so close to me.
I’ll discuss RAW files more at a later date.