It is early October but I am already starting to get excited about seeing my first of the season Rough-legged Hawks. In North America this arctic species breeds in the tundra and taiga of arctic and subarctic areas of Alaska and Canada and migrate to southern Canada and the northern United States for the winter. About mid to late October is when I usually see my first of the season Rough-legged Hawk.
The beautiful male light-morph Rough-legged Hawk above was photographed in late January of 2015 perched along the Antelope Island Causeway.
I’m not sure why I see far fewer males than females or juveniles in northern Utah but that has been the case each year I have observed and photographed them here in the Salt Lake Valley. Birds of North America Online states:
Limited evidence suggests that females winter farther north than males on average, although there is considerable overlap (Russell 1981, Olson and Arsenault 2000).
Though I would love the opportunity to photograph more male Rough-legged Hawks I am always happy to see them through my viewfinder regardless of their sex.
Life is good.