A Very Obliging Swainson’s Hawk Juvenile

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk portraitJuvenile Swainson’s Hawk portrait – Nikon D810, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited or setup

I am back from another amazing camping trip to southwestern Montana and I am a bit exhausted but elated too. I saw clouds, sunshine, wind and snow and the lowest temp was 11°F. Brr! There were plenty of birds some days and a dearth of them at other times but all in all I am very pleased with the images I came back with.

For three days I had fun photographing a very obliging Swainson’s Hawk juvenile at the east end of the Centennial Valley and by obliging I mean it was very approachable. Vehicles passed by at a distance of about 6 feet and it didn’t even flinch.

I was able to get close ups of this juvenile from the road as it perched on a fence post and scanned the fields for grasshoppers. I just love the shades of browns, tans and cream colored plumage of this light morph juvenile Swainson’s. I also appreciate the great look at the bill, lores and luminescent eye.

Calling juvenile Swainson's HawkCalling juvenile Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D810, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited or setup

The young Swainson’s still called quite often for the adult that was nearby but out of the range of my lens and on the wrong side of the light. This young bird of prey will soon be making a journey of thousands of miles to South America if it hasn’t already headed that way. For the last couple of days in Montana it wasn’t at the location where I photographed it but I am not sure if they migrated or if the hundreds of cows that were moved into that area of the refuge kept them away.

Over the next few days I will most likely be sitting at my computer culling a couple of thousand images and selecting some of them to share here on my blog along with the stories behind the images.

It is good to be back home but it is always hard for me to say goodbye to the Centennial Valley and its wild inhabitants for the year. I’ll miss it.



  1. Kathleen September 17, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Wonderful images! It’s fantastic when there’s an opportunity to get close to wildlife.

  2. Jane Chesebrough September 16, 2014 at 8:00 am

    great portraits!

  3. Utahbooklover September 14, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Wonderful images Mia. I especially like the first one for the way it shows the pattern on its back so nicely balanced — a beautiful portrait.

  4. Mary McAvoy September 14, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Amazing shots, Mia. Just beautiful.
    Welcome back to your home.
    Use you photos and memories for mini-vacations of the mind until you return.

  5. Dave Sparks September 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I’m drooling. Colors and detail are wonderful. I must visit the Centennial Valley.

  6. Elephant's Child September 14, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Love that juvenile, and your work. Thank you.

  7. Humming Bird Lover September 14, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Hi! Love your photo’s and the way you talked about your work! I can see it in my minds eyes as if I were there with you! Keep up the very special shots you take!!!

  8. Jolanta September 14, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Wonderful pictures!

  9. Patty Chadwick September 14, 2014 at 8:03 am

    These are amazing images, Mia! You takes such wondeful portraits. Thede are real beauties…you can even see the juvenile eye coloring…beautiful!

  10. Lois Bryan September 14, 2014 at 6:34 am

    What an extraordinarily beautiful creature, Mia … and what magnificent images!!!!! I’m so glad you had such a wonderful and successful time!!!!

  11. Bob Bushell September 14, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Most obliging………….nice one.

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