Red-tailed Hawks Do Perch on Wires

/, Red-tailed Hawks, Utah, Utah County/Red-tailed Hawks Do Perch on Wires

Adult Red-tailed Hawk perched on a wireAdult Red-tailed Hawk perched on a wire – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

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.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk perched on a wireJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk perched on a wire – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

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.

Mia

4 Comments

  1. Wally November 11, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    That’s the one thing you can count on in Nature – nothing is absolute!
    On a wire, in a tree, on a rock – that’s one beautiful raptor!

  2. Patty Chadwick November 11, 2015 at 9:22 am

    When I hear “always” and “never” uttered by a wildlife “ex spurt”(I’m thinking of two particular local Audubon Club members right now), my automatic reaction is “Yeah, right! FORGET him!…or her!”…these images and comments validate that reaction…so often, my own, unscientific experiences have totally contradicted such statements, which are usually uttered with great conviction…and pomposity….

  3. Bob Mcpherson November 11, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Gorgeous photos, Mia.

  4. steven kessel November 11, 2015 at 5:29 am

    Comes as no surprise to me. Down here in southern Arizona we occasionally see Red Tails on wires and on branches that are so thin that they bend precariously with the birds’ weight. Yes, they prefer to perch on sturdier stuff, but never say “never” with these hawks.

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