Photographing a Red-tailed Hawk at Farmington Bay

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Sub-adult Red-tailed Hawk on a nest box at Farmington BayRed-tailed Hawk on a nest box at Farmington Bay – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Almost three years ago today I spent time photographing a Red-tailed Hawk at Farmington Bay that was hunting in a snowy field while using a nest box as a perch to watch for prey. The Red-tailed Hawk wasn’t quite fully grown, even though it had the red tail of an adult it still had the light colored eyes of a juvenile instead of the dark eyes of an adult.

Sub-adult Red-tailed Hawk on a snowy fieldRed-tailed Hawk on a snowy field – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

The Red-tailed Hawk perched on top of the nest box over the snowy field and when it located prey it would lift off and fly towards the prey. While I photographed this hawk I see it successfully catch prey once. The heavy cover of snow on the ground may have been an obstacle, it is for many birds of prey at this time of the year.

Sub-adult Red-tailed Hawk drying its feathersRed-tailed Hawk drying its feathers – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

One time when the hawk returned to its perch on the nest box it shook and then spread its tail out to dry and by doing so it gave me a great view of the dark bands of its red tail. The out of focus snow-covered Wasatch Mountain Range behind the hawk made for a nice background.

Sub-adult Red-tailed Hawk yawning on a nest boxRed-tailed Hawk yawning on a nest box – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Then the Red-tailed Hawk yawned a couple of times while basking in the bright morning sun before it flew north and I left the hawk to head home. Some times I wonder if this same hawk shows up at Farmington Bay during the winter, who knows, maybe it does.

Life is good.

Mia

7 Comments

  1. Pepe Forte January 14, 2017 at 11:21 am

    The hawk’s concentration on his potential prey is fascinating. Great images of what it takes to survive in the wild. Thanks.

  2. Elephant's Child January 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Love the windswept britches in the first photo. And am super encouraged that this bird caught prey, despite the conditions and despite not being fully grown.

  3. Laura Culley January 13, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Beautiful shots. Just FYI, eye color is not a reliable indicator of age. It seems they darken at different rates with different individuals and CAN take several years to complete the transition. I’ve often wondered what triggered that transition in eye color, but I haven’t read anything definitive on the why part. The redtail I’ve flown in falconry took a full six years before the transition was complete. Go figure!

    • Diane McPherson-Stern January 13, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      Hello Laura Culley. Fancy seeing you here my friend. Hope all is well.
      Mia love the show of the tail picture. Thanks f for sharing. BTW Laura has taught me every thing I know about Red Tails. and other raptors.

  4. Bob McPherson January 13, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Beautiful photos, Mia. They have a tough line indeed.

  5. Don January 13, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Love the details on that tail!

  6. Patty Chadwick January 13, 2017 at 8:38 am

    The winter snows must make finding food very difficult and msny must starve….a very hard life….

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