Last December my friend Jerry Liguori wrote a post for Hawkwatch International about using the terms “Always” and “Never” in regards to bird ID and used the example of an often heard phrase that “Red-tailed Hawks never sit on wires”, which is certainly not accurate and he showed that by sharing three images of Red-tailed Hawks sitting on wires. I thought his post was great because one of my mantras concerning bird photography is to “expect the unexpected” and that has served me well.
The Red-tailed Hawk perched on a wire above was photographed in Utah County on November 9, 2014 and I was simply hoping for a take off shot or two when I took the image of it sitting on the wire.
This juvenile Red-tailed Hawk perched on a wire was taken on September 21, 2015 also in Utah County and as a crow flies it was probably about two miles southeast of where the adult in the first image was photographed.
I think it is interesting that in both locations the Red-tailed Hawks could have perched on top of the power poles or the cross bars of the power poles or on top of junipers that were nearby but used the wires instead.
I know that I have also heard that Red-tailed Hawks won’t perch in on the thinnest branches on top of trees like Rough-legged Hawks do but I have also seen Red-tailed Hawks on thin branches. In the field though I can say it is probably a Rough-legged Hawk because it is perched high up on a thin branch as a preliminary ID but until I see some other ID keys or scope the bird out with my lens I am hesitant to confirm my ID.
There are always exceptions. So yes, Red-tailed Hawks do sit on wires and that is one rule of birding to discount.
Life is good.