Rough-legged Hawks – Is it time to say goodbye?

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Rough-legged Hawk keeping an eye on the skyRough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) keeping an eye on the sky –  Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/320, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

I have had such amazing experiences with Rough-legged Hawks this winter. I’ve captured them in flight, preening, eating, hovering, kiting, resting and so much more. During my peak observations I was seeing 20+ while out in the field but their numbers have been dropping fast the past few weeks. Now I might see one for the whole day.

I’ve been able to get close to the Rough-legged Hawks and learn more about them by observing their behavior, watching their movements and to savor their beautiful plumage colors and patterns. The hawk above was watching something in the sky.

Rough-legged Hawk fly by Rough-legged Hawk fly by –  Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

This Rough-legged Hawk gave me an up close and personal fly by. They have gorgeous eyes.

Rough-legged Hawk PreeningPreening Rough-legged Hawk – Nikon D300, f9, 1/640, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

I have been fortunate to see and photograph them while preening in wonderful light.

Lift off!Rough-legged Hawk lifting off from the ground – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, natural light, not baited or set up

I have watched them lift off with those long, powerful wings to soar in the sky. I’ve learned a lot about these beautiful raptors this winter and I’ll miss them this summer.

It does appear that the Rough-legged Hawks are making their way back to their breeding grounds high in the Arctic Circle. I hope that they have another great nesting season and that I will see them again this coming winter. They have been such a joy.

Mia

6 Comments

  1. Laurence Butler February 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Ha! I’ll miss them too (by proxy). I’ve loved all of your Roughies this winter, but I guess with their departure there’ll be other nifty spring birds coming in.

    • Mia McPherson February 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Thank you Laurence, I’m very glad you have enjoyed my Roughy posts this winter. They are fun raptors to photograph.

      Springs birds ARE coming in, watch for my next post!

  2. Tammy Karr February 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Great series of photos! I enjoyed being able to see all these interesting behaviors close up! The preening photo with the feather in his mouth is amazing!

    • Mia McPherson February 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Tammy,

      Thanks for your wonderful comment on this post. I love that preening pose too!

  3. Julie Brown February 26, 2012 at 10:13 am

    You had a very productive season with these birds, Mia. All of your images have been wonderful. The top image is my favorite today. Sweet!

    • Mia McPherson February 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks so much Julie. I did see two of them today while I was out. Thanks as always for your comments on my images.

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