Keeping an eye on the sky for Rough-legged Hawks

/, Birds, Davis County, Rough-legged Hawks, Utah/Keeping an eye on the sky for Rough-legged Hawks

A male Rough-legged Hawk perched along the causewayA male Rough-legged Hawk perched along the causeway – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

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.



  1. Mia McPherson October 5, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Thank you all for your comments.

    Neil, thanks for letting me know you saw your FOS in the Goshutes! They are on their way! I ha checked eBird and the closest I was seeing Roughies so far was in northern Montana.

  2. Neil October 4, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Just saw my FOS at the Goshutes in Nevada today Mia! And it was an adult male! They will be upon us soon.

    • Neil October 5, 2015 at 7:34 am

      This last cold front we just had probably pushed a few birds further south. It wasn’t reported but the SLC airport had a Rough-leg on September 17th, although as of Friday they hadn’t seen another since.

      • Mia McPherson October 5, 2015 at 8:07 am

        Neil, I hope this front bring more in! We’ll maybe they can wait until I get my D810 back in my hands.

  3. Elephant's Child October 4, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    I so hope your searching eyes are rewarded. Generously.

  4. Patty Chadwick October 4, 2015 at 10:59 am

    The feather colors and patterns on this bird are beautiful…love the marled look.

  5. Cindy October 4, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Such soft colors, Mia. You provide us with such an education. Haven’t been to Antelope Island in years. Need to go one day. 🙂 Thank you!

  6. [email protected] October 4, 2015 at 6:33 am

    Beautiful image, Mia

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