Red-tailed Hawk Nesting Maintenance Behavior in the Fall

/, Box Elder County, Davis County, Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Red-tailed Hawks, Utah/Red-tailed Hawk Nesting Maintenance Behavior in the Fall

Adult Red-tailed Hawk in flight with nesting materials in the FallAdult Red-tailed Hawk in flight with nesting materials in the Fall – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1250, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Last October I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk soaring over Farmington Bay WMA and with my naked eyes it appeared to be carrying something and when I trained my lens on the hawk I could see that it had a twig grasped in its bill. It seemed a little odd to me that a Red-tailed Hawk would be gathering nesting material in the fall but about that time a friend came up to talk and I stopped photographing the hawk. There was a nest in a tree not far from where I photographed this hawk.

Later I spoke with Jerry Liguori; who is a friend, raptor expert and author, and when I explained what I had seen he said that sometimes in the fall pairs of Red-tailed Hawks do nesting maintenance. I processed this image last fall but didn’t post it because the hawk was so far away.

Adult Red-tailed Hawk in its nest in the FallAdult Red-tailed Hawk in its nest in the Fall – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Yesterday I was out looking for birds in Box Elder County and enjoying the bright morning when I saw a pair of Red-tailed Hawks perched on rocky outcroppings but I passed them by because they were on the wrong side of my Jeep and they were a bit far away and I also though they might be closer when I came back up the road. Later when I headed back that way I was at first disappointed because I didn’t see the hawks but when I rounded the edge of the cliff I saw both birds in flight and both of them had nesting materials.

I quickly pulled over to the shoulder of the road but missed this Red-tailed Hawk flying into the nest with twigs in its bill. I watched the other hawk circle above and then this hawk took off and landed on the hillside and appeared to be searching for nesting materials. I was fighting mosquitoes again and missed it taking off with a branch it had grabbed from the ground.

I didn’t want to have my presence affect the nesting maintenance behavior of the pair of Red-tailed Hawks so I left them to do what comes natural to them.

Red-tailed Hawk with nesting material in AutumnRed-tailed Hawk with nesting material in Autumn – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

About 18 miles from where I photographed the Red-tailed Hawk in its nest I came across another Red-tailed perched on a tall pole and when I put my lens on it the hawk picked up a branch with leaves on it and I took a few images of it before it lifted off and flew to a tree where I knew I’d seen a nest earlier this year.

I enjoyed seeing the Red-tailed Hawks yesterday and observing their nesting maintenance behavior in the Fall, I don’t’ see it very often so it makes it special to me.

Life is good.



  1. Humming bird lover September 28, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Hi! So beautiful shooting! Have not seen very much of our Red-tailed Hawks this year here in Va. They where keeping our squirrels not being so plentiful! Great work honey! Keep up the great photo’s! Love ya much mom

  2. Utahbooklover September 27, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Great images, especially the inflight one. And thanks too for the informative post.

  3. Elephant's Child September 27, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Household maintenance is never done – for them, or for us.
    Love, love, love that first photo.

  4. Diane McPherson-Stern September 27, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for the info and the pictures. I did not know that they did maintenance on their nests.

  5. Jane Chesebrough September 27, 2016 at 9:31 am

    I have seen birds with nesting materials in the fall, too but not breeding, so this piece was enlightening.I love hearing these hawks and like your images.

  6. Kathy September 27, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Oh wow, learned something new today. Love the photos

  7. Patty Chadwick September 27, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Interesting behavior for this time of year. I especially like the headcshot of the bird in the nest. Reminds me so much of a Golden Eagle. Beautiful!

  8. Bob McPherson September 27, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Beautiful images, Mia. Interesting Raptor behavior.

  9. Kim September 27, 2016 at 6:16 am


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