A Swainson’s Hawk in Box Elder County

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A Swainson's Hawk perched on a lichen covered boulderA Swainson’s Hawk perched on a lichen covered boulder – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I am always happy to photograph Swainson’s Hawks no matter where I find them so I was pleased to find this one perched on a lichen covered rock yesterday in Box Elder County, Utah. Quite often I find them perched on power poles so any natural perch is great in my opinion. The hawk looked handsome, even regal on that perch.

A Northern Mockingbird attacks a Swainson's HawkA Northern Mockingbird attacks a Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I wasn’t photographing the hawk for very long when a Bullock’s Oriole flew in to harass it and shortly after that a Northern Mockingbird started to harass the hawk too. I was able to get all three birds in the frame at the same time but I like the pose seen here of the mockingbird. The hawk stood its ground for a little while but…

A Swainson's Hawk lifting off from a lichen covered boulderA Swainson’s Hawk lifting off from a lichen covered boulder – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

When it had enough of the mockingbird it lifted off. It wasn’t until I reviewed the images of the Swainson’s Hawk on my LCD screen that I realized the hawk was molting and that some of the primary feathers were missing.

Swainson's Hawk in moltSwainson’s Hawk in molt – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

This image doesn’t show it but in another blurry frame as the hawk flew overhead I could see that it was also missing a few tail feathers and some of the secondaries were messed up too. Regardless of the condition of the primary feathers this Swainson’s Hawk in Box Elder County was a real treat.

I see and photograph such interesting things as a bird photographer and I am grateful for it all.

Life is good.

Mia

5 Comments

  1. Utahbooklover July 1, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for very interesting post. Marvelous first image, spectacular attacking image.

  2. Elephant's Child June 30, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Majestic and marvellous – even in moult.

  3. Stu June 30, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    I have a question Mia.. if you know. You mention both an Oriole and then a Mockingbird attacked the Hawk to get it to move on. I presume this was to protect young on nests? Do birds species group together to fend off predators do you know? IE once one defender attacks the predator, others instinctively join in?

  4. Patty Chadwick June 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    That beautiful bird looks so noble and perfect in the first frame…it isn’t until take off and flight that it begins to look a little moth-eaten… Wonder where all those molted feathers go…can’t all be blown away or eaten up by mites….

  5. Nancy Collins June 30, 2015 at 5:35 am

    Nice photo captures Mia! Life is good!

Comments are closed.