Ferruginous Hawk in grasses – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
I was thrilled to photograph this Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) last month in Beaverhead County while on a journey to southwestern Montana last month, in fact this hawk was the last bird I took images of on that trip.
I love to say Ferruginous, I like the way the R’s roll off of my tongue and how saying it makes me giggle.
The hawk had been on a fencepost and it dove down into the grasses after prey, it must have missed because when it flew up to perch on a post again its talons were empty.
Ferruginous Hawk perched on a fencepost – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
Ferruginous Hawks are the largest hawks found in North America. They inhabit low elevation, open areas in the western United States and some locations in southwestern Canada and winter in southwestern US and Mexico. They nest in trees and on the ground.
Ferruginous Hawk in flight – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
Ferruginous Hawks prey on rabbits, hares, prairie dogs, ground squirrels and when those prey items are scarce they will also eat fledgling birds, reptiles and amphibians. They have a lifespan of up to 20 years.
I haven’t yet seen or photographed the dark form of the Ferruginous Hawk, I hope that I will be able to do that sometime soon.
*I am away for a while so I scheduled this post ahead of time, please feel free to share with family & friends.
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)
Antelope Island State Park, Utah
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
Eureka! The Rough-legged Hawks are back from their high subarctic and Arctic breeding grounds and they seem to be showing up in larger numbers than I have seen them since I moved to Utah. I have had few opportunities to photograph this handsome raptor and I am hoping to have more chances to do so this winter.
Rough-legged Hawks are thought to be nomadic in that they move about in response to the availability of prey. Rough-legged Hawks are one of only two species of hawks in North America that have feathers down to their feet, Ferruginous Hawks also have feathered legs.
Roughies have small bills, small feet and short broad heads. Their plumage coloration is widely variable from very dark to pale creamy tones. The dark morph is less common here in the west with only about 10% of the population having the darker plumage. Two years ago I spotted a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk in northern Utah but it was too far away to get decent images of, that figures, right? All I got was ID shots.
Now, if only I can get good light and plenty of Rough-legged Hawks while they are here this winter.
PS, the meaning of lagopus is derived from ancient Greek, is “hare-footed”, a very fitting description of the legs of this hawk.
Ferruginous Hawk with wings up
Tooele County, Utah
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/4000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up
I love to say “Ferruginous”, I’m not sure exactly why but I think it is a fun word to pronounce, especially when I roll the “R’s”. Yes, it is probably a little odd to enjoy saying it so much but I don’t apologize for it! I love to say “Flammulated” too.
Ferruginous Hawks (Buteo regalis) are the largest hawks found in North America, the “regalis” in the latin name means “kingly” or “regal” and I have to agree with those descriptions. The English name; “Ferruginous”, means “rusty” and that also describes some of this hawk’s coloring very well.
Tooele County, Utah
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 355mm, natural light, not baited or set up
Ferruginous Hawks are found in western North America in terrains from grasslands to open deserts. I often see them perched on utility poles, old snags, on top of sagebrush bushes or where I often find this species in Tooele County, on top of a small weather reporting station. My bad timing allowed the weather station to still be obvious in the photo above but these large raptors do take off quick and I wanted a series of shots as it lifted off, this was the first frame of that series.
I haven’t had the best of luck getting quality photos of this species, it seems that quite often they take off facing away from me and I like having eye contact with my subject. Once I spotted one slowly flying in to where I stood but alas I didn’t have my camera in hand. I told a friend to grab his camera and he got some decent images whilst I got nothing but a great view of the Ferruginous flying low and slow over my head. I hope my luck changes. Or I’ll need to seriously consider spending a lot of time waiting where I know I see these raptors.
Ferruginous Hawk with wings on a down beat
Tooele County, Utah
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up
Yesterday I found this Ferruginous perched twice on the weather station so I was able to get two series of lift off shots and was quite pleased to have those opportunities. I like that the image above shows the “rusty” plumage on the wing, shoulder and back of this gorgeous hawk. I have not seen the dark morph of this species yet though I understand they are equally as stunning as the light morph.
Any time I see a Ferruginous (rolling my “R’s”) Hawk, they take my breath away