The juvenile Swainson’s Hawk that saved my day

/, Box Elder County, Swainson's Hawks, Utah/The juvenile Swainson’s Hawk that saved my day

Swainson's Hawk juvenile on a wire fenceSwainson’s Hawk juvenile on a wire fence – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Yesterday was frustrating for me near Snowville, Utah because there were raptors all around but not many of them were close enough to photograph and the ones that were close were either vey skittish or wouldn’t fly off of the power poles even after long periods of time.

But this juvenile Swainson’s Hawk was tolerant of the pickup with two big lenses sticking out of it even after we went past it, turned around and came back to photograph the young hawk.

Yawning juvenile Swainson's HawkYawning juvenile Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

The immature bird even yawned while I was photographing it. These two frames were taken with a farmer’s fields showing below the rusty wire fence and although it looks like sky above the fence in the background it is really distant mountains with the blue sections being shadows from clouds that were overhead. Strange, but true.

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk fly byJuvenile Swainson’s Hawk fly by – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1800, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

The Swainson’s might have stayed around longer but a big rig drove past and the juvenile Hawk took flight. I wish I had bumped my EV up 1/3 of  a step because I had to increase the exposure of this frame a smidge in Photoshop and I don’t like doing that because it can increase any visible noise.

I wasn’t happy that the semi went by when it did but I’m happy this bird was perched on the fence because the only other decent images I got yesterday were of a Turkey Vulture who will also make an appearance on my blog soon!



  1. Dave Sparks September 21, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I love the wonderful colors in the BG. Beautiful!

  2. Josh Wallestad September 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I love the colors in the first two photographs – nice composition. We are just east of the Swainson’s Hawk’s range, but we do get occasional strays. I’m still looking for my lifer.

  3. Sheila September 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I love the face on the hawk in the first photo, beautiful!

  4. Hummingbirdlover September 18, 2013 at 8:36 am


    It is saying it is boring ! I have not seen anything worth running & flying after! Maybe I need a nap.
    Great shot & colors are great to. Have a good day . It looks cool today by the weather channel!

  5. Sherry in MT September 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Adore the colors in the first one and the fence but have to say the yawn grabbed me! 🙂

  6. Elephant's Child September 17, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    It seems that even a Hawk’s yawn is contagious. I loved the image and everytime I scrolled back… I yawned.
    I am very glad that this youngster ‘saved the day’ for you. And us.

  7. Merrill Ann Gonzales September 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    This Swainson’s is lovely…. (odd adjective to describe a hawk, I know…but true.) Funny, yesterday, in the way to Audubon we came across a adult and a fledgling Black Vulture….we usually get the Turkey Vultures…
    I have a lot of trouble photographing hawks for the same reasons you mention here… they are usually too far away or moved faster than my reflexes and I end up with an empty frame. I’ve learned to “try” to sit and draw them best I can in my sketch shorthand… and then to work out the glitches when I get back in my studio. That’s why some of your photos are so great for me because I can see where I’ve gone wrong and do the patch.
    But we don’t have any Swainson’s Hawks around here that I’ve seen… so this post is a pleasure. Many thanks.

  8. eric c11 September 17, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    i m just coming back from 2 weeks in holidays near ponds and sea shore, plenty of pictures taken to sort and organise too (pfffff long work in view)
    happy to see you last pictures there
    it s a very nice serie, the one in fligth is beautifull, thanks mia

  9. Bob Bushell September 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Love that one, yawning. But, they are all beauties.

  10. Jane Chesebrough September 17, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Yes, I too like the yawn. If it had not been for you telling us what was in the background, I would have thought it was sky.I took note of your comment about upping a stop in-camera versus in Photoshop.

  11. Utahbooklover September 17, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Nice photos, Mia. My favorite is the one in flight. BTW yesterday afternoon, sitting on our backyard gate was a juvenile Cooper’s hawk — I think. Five minutes of joy watching it and snapping a few images through the glass door with my point and shoot Canon.

  12. patty chadwick September 17, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Beautiful little bird…love yawn shot. If it wasn’t for you and Ron, I’d never even see a great,big bird yawn.

  13. Sonja Ross September 17, 2013 at 4:03 am

    I really like the one of the yawn! Sometimes people walking are just as bad as the semi too!

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