Young Red-tailed Hawk

A young Red-tailed HawkA young Red-tailed Hawk

Last month while up in Montana I saw this young Red-tailed Hawk just standing in the road looking around and not acting the least bit concerned about the pickup or the two large lens that were pointed at it. I think this was a pretty young bird that may have left its nest around the time I photographed it. I didn’t see any adults nearby and I probably would have because the area was quite open and the only nearby perches were power poles or fence posts.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on a gravel roadJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk on a gravel road

Was the young hawk looking around for prey? Probably, but I am not sure what it might have been hoping to find while standing on a gravel road. Perhaps grasshoppers? Or the numerous ground squirrels that have burrows along the entire length of the road?  I didn’t see many voles but I still can’t count them out as prey. What ever the juvenile raptor was looking for I hope that it found it because quite a few raptors die during their first year, mortality rates are estimated of being between 60 and 80%.

I must admit I have concerns about the success of the nesting season this year in Beaverhead County, Montana because I saw far fewer juvenile Red-tailed and Swainson’s Hawks than I have in prior years but did see more juvenile Ferruginous Hawks than I have seen previously.

It is wonderful to be back on line and sharing my images and the stories behind them again! Thank you all for the great welcome back.


PS: I noticed this morning that you can only get to the images in my photo galleries by clicking the images in the main body of the galleries, the dropdown list of galleries does not function as it should. I’m still working out the bugs from the migration to the new hosting provider.


  1. Julie Brown August 23, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    This is a very handsome youngster. Love that creamy chest!

    • Mia McPherson August 23, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      I agree Julie, it is a very handsome youngster. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Jane Chesebrough August 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I get a kick out of the young ones, they are so seemingly unaware of the dangers. Like the markings was surprised how much red tails can vary.

    • Mia McPherson August 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      I do love all the variations in plumage that Red-tails have! Thanks Jane.

  3. Elephant's Child August 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Even young birds have that majestic look and stance down pat.
    A gorgeous bird – thank you.

  4. Patty Chadwick August 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I think he’s beautiful and it looks like he does, too! Welcome back!

    • Mia McPherson August 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      Thank you very much Patty, it is lovely to be back.

  5. Tami August 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Glad to see the migration is complete and went relatively smoothly, Mia!

    Here in the Upper Midwest we’re losing young falcons and other accipiters to starvation. Our weird cold spring killed off so many birds and prevented an early round of broods, so there are far fewer birds for the raptors to eat.

    You really captured the gorgeous markings on this bird.

    • Mia McPherson August 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you Tami, I did find some issues with my photo galleries but I think those are being resolved.

      We also had a late, cold spring which may have affected this breeding season. Both here and in Montana.

      The young Red-tail did have gorgeous markings!

  6. Utahbooklover August 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Your concerns for the success of the red-tail hawk’s nesting season this year in Beaverhead County, Montana, remind me of the disappointing news this year re the downtown Salt Lake City peregrine falcons: Only one of the four eggs laid by the peregrine falcons this spring hatched and fans of the raptors were saddened to hear that the one that did hatch died over the weekend after crashing while learning to fly on July 3. Let’s hope next year is better. Thanks for the info and nice photos too.

    • Mia McPherson August 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Utahbooklover, the number of successful American Kestrel nests this breeding season is way down here in Utah. I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist but I am growing more deeply concerned about the breeding season this year as far as raptors go. I do know that the vole population crashed last year both in the Centennial Valley and in areas I frequent here in Utah, that may have something to do with the fewer numbers of American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks that I am seeing. Swainson’s Hawks do feed their young voles and other small vertebrates but adults primarily feed on grasshoppers and there were plenty of those in the Centennial Valley, so many that they were smacking me in the head and chest as we would drive down the roads.

      I really hope that next year the breeding season is more productive all the way around.

  7. Sonja Ross August 22, 2013 at 4:57 am

    He’s a handsome one, so I hope he survives. It’s nice to have your posts again, and I hope the transfer wasn’t too traumatic.

    • Mia McPherson August 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Thanks Sonja. I hope this hawk survives too, they are so beautiful.

  8. Bob Bushell August 22, 2013 at 3:54 am

    That’s a pretty one, great to catch it Mia.

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