Yesterday morning in northern Utah I saw about a dozen Swainson’s Hawks in about 2.25 miles, some were perched, some were in flight and all of them were wonderful to photograph. I found it difficult to keep up with how many there were so I just stopped counting. It is a pretty straight stretch of road so I could easily spot them plus it felt a “Swainson’s Hawk Gallery” with the hawks just waiting in line to be photographed.
It was chilly yesterday morning and some of the hawks seemed to be warming up in the sun from the cold night. This male was pretty sticky.
This Swainson’s was beautiful in the morning light with sagebrush and grasses in the background along with the distant mountains.
By driving slow past the Swainson’s Hawks there were times I could take close up photos of them with my long lens without the hawks showing any signs of being alarmed. When other vehicles went past they barely even flinched. I wonder of the other drivers even saw these magnificent birds or of they were in such a hurry to get where they were going they just ignored the hawks.
Most of the Swainson’s Hawks seemed like all they wanted to do was absorb the warmth of the rising sun before getting started on their day. I’m kind of like that but I substitute coffee for the sun to get my day off to the right start.
This dark morph Swainson’s Hawk looked rufous in the golden light when passing it, this is the same bird as the photo directly above this one but the angle of light had changed while moving down the road. I’m seeing quite a few dark morph Swainson’s this year in northern Utah and that delights me.
I believe this is a sub-adult intermediate morph Swainson’s Hawk and it was very cooperative. I took way too many images of it from several different spots from the shoulder of the road.
And I couldn’t resist sharing a photo of this male Swainson’s casting a pellet of fur and bones. I have a great series of the hawk expelling this pellet and a second one that can be seen in the hawk’s beak that followed it.
It is terrific to have the Swainson’s Hawks back in Utah, to see them perched on fence posts, trees and rocks, to see them soaring in the sky and to be able to photograph them once again. I had a great time with them yesterday.
Life is so good.