First year Red-tailed Hawk close up – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
Even though the roads were dicey I did get out to photograph a few birds yesterday morning after our Christmas snow storm. At home there was probably close to 9 inches of the fluffy white stuff on the ground.
It was snowing at Farmington Bay, the light was low and visibility was poor but I didn’t come home completely empty-handed and I did see birds.
This first year Red-tailed Hawk close up in the snow storm was a reminder of how much our birds and wildlife have to struggle to get through the harsh winter. The juvenile hawk’s tail feathers were wet, its back had a fine layer of snow on it and there was ice on the feathers surrounding its right eye. It was also all fluffed up to keep out the cold.
This young hawk needs to be able to detect its prey in white out conditions with freezing temps and have successful hunts just to be able to survive the harsh winters here in northern Utah. Red-tailed Hawks, like many other raptors, suffer a high mortality rate of around 80% during their first year. If they can survive that first year they can live to be about 20 years of age.
This isn’t a great image because the snow-covered Russian Olive branches, leaves and fruits are a bit distracting to the eye and the white background isn’t the best but I think this photo speaks of the conditions this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk has to cope with to survive until spring. I hope this Red-tailed Hawk makes it.
Life is trying but good.