Adult Intermediate Morph Swainson’s Hawk

/, Swainson's Hawks, Utah/Adult Intermediate Morph Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk with a voleSwainson’s Hawk with a vole – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I probably don’t say often enough that I feel so grateful to do what I do, to photograph my wild subjects in their natural habitats and to be able to follow my passion of creating images of such beautiful creatures. To know that my subjects have no hate, no egos and no malice and that they do what they do to survive and procreate. I felt all of that yesterday when I photographed this handsome adult intermediate morph Swainson’s Hawk.

That said, if you prefer not to view graphic images such as a hawk eating a vole, you might want to stop reading and viewing right here. Personally, I don’t find it gross or offensive, the hawk is just doing what comes naturally to a predator of the sky.

Swainson's Hawk eating a voleSwainson’s Hawk eating a vole – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I saw this Swainson’s Hawk catch this vole but the capture was obstructed by grasses and sagebrush so I waited and I photographed the hawk again once it landed on a perch and began to devour the vole. They are quite efficient at stripping out what they eat and leaving the rest.

Box Elder County Swainson's HawkBox Elder County Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The hawk didn’t take long at all to finish eating the vole and it scraped its bill on the fence post and cleaned off one of its talons before a vehicle speeding by chased the hawk off of its perch.

Preening Swainson's HawkPreening Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The hawk didn’t fly very far and landed on another fence post nearby to finish its post meal preening session. They do get into some odd looking poses while preening and I find all of them amusing.

Adult Swainson's Hawk preeningAdult Swainson’s Hawk preening – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Like this image where the hawk was preening a feather on its neck and still had it grasped in its bill.

The hawk might look goofy but I still feel it is important to present my subjects doing what they do naturally and I realize that not everyone has the opportunities I do to see this happening in the wild.

He still had blood on his talons and bill when I left.

Adult Swainson's Hawk close upAdult Swainson’s Hawk close up – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

This Swainson’s Hawk was right next to the road the entire time I photographed it and I was able to get a series of it it where the hawk nearly filled the frame from top to bottom. Then he lifted off and flew low and straight overhead to a field behind me to look for prey on the ground. I wasn’t ready when he flew right at me, I wish I had gotten those shots too.

I saw quite a few Swainson’s Hawks yesterday though none of them were as cooperative as this one was. I am glad to see them back from South America.

Have I mentioned that I love what I do?

Life is good.

Mia

10 Comments

  1. Elephant's Child April 18, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    It is always a privilege to see animals. Free animals. Doing what they need to do. Thank you.

  2. Larry Muench April 18, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Beautiful capture of a beautiful bird. Thanks, Mia. I love it too (just not as often as you).

  3. Patty Chadwick April 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

    An interesting series…something I wouldn’t otherwise get to see.

  4. Linda Laugen April 18, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Thanks for the “heads up” – am not squeamish about the facts, which I do appreciate – the finely detailed close-ups? Not so much! In Iowa, we watch the Decorah Eagles hours and hours every day – a really wonderful opportunity – but I have my moments there, too – – : (

  5. Jim Miller April 18, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Thanks again, Mia. Great Shots. I also appreciate the comments about the hawk doing what he’s supposed to do. I’m a big fan of rattlesnakes here in Arizona, and love to talk about them despite most folks disquiet about the animals. We’d be overrun with mice and rats without them, and I find the snakes to be incredibly fascinating.

  6. Neil Rossmiller April 18, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Great stuff, Mia.
    Always enjoy your images with my morning coffee. Start of another wonderful day!

  7. Greg Ogden April 18, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Beautiful

  8. Bob McPherson April 18, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Beautiful images Mia. Nature at its best.

  9. Phil April 18, 2016 at 5:56 am

    These are wonderful Mia. What do you do with all these images after you take them.?

  10. Roger Burnard April 18, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Whooooooppppeeeee!!!!!! I can now access your site, but Ron’s is still blocked.
    I don’t know what you did, but it worked. Thank you Mia. It would be wonderful
    if you would pass this news on to Ron.

    How wonderful to be able to see your beautiful series today. When viewing
    these shots it must put a big smile on your face… I know it puts a smile on
    mine. ;-)))

Comments are closed.