Five Different Centennial Valley Red-tailed Hawks

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Post-poop look from a Red-tailed HawkPost-poop look from a Red-tailed Hawk  – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Good morning from Idaho! The weather mostly cooperated yesterday and so did the birds. Or, I guess I should say that I was able to get my lens on some birds in decent light, at a decent distance which returned decent results.

Red-tailed Hawks were my most photographed species yesterday morning in the Centennial Valley of southwestern Montana and I had fun with them. The photo above shows the look I got from an adult Red-tailed Hawk right after it let “it” fly, by “it” I mean the hawk took a dump.

Red-tailed Hawk balancing on a wireRed-tailed Hawk balancing on a wire  – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Then I photographed one that appeared to be getting ready for  tightrope walk on a high wire. Truthfully I don’t see Red-tailed Hawks perched on wires all that often but they do perch on wires.

Bleached blond Red-tailed HawkBleached blond Red-tailed Hawk  – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

And this beauty looks like it got a bad bleach job at a beauty shop but the sun actually bleached the feathers on the Red-tailed Hawk’s head. This is normal for this time of the year and the head feathers will soon molt. Also, this hawk still has light eyes of a sub-adult but the tail of an adult Red-tailed.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on a gnarly fenceJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk on a gnarly fence  – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

The I photographed one Red-tailed Hawk juvenile from a brood of four! The other three juveniles were across the road in bad light so I focused on this one until two birding ladies in a dark blue pickup drove up and chased it away.

Red-tailed Hawk adult on a fence post painted redRed-tailed Hawk adult on a fence post painted red  – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

And finally a Red-tailed Hawk on a fence post painted red in front of a hillside covered in conifers and below that a field of sage and lupines. When gates and fence posts are painted red that means “NO hunting” and the owner of the land is serious about that.

Five different Centennial Valley Red-tailed Hawks, same valley but in different locations in the valley and each of them were a joy to photograph.

Life is good. I love birds.



  1. Pepe Forte July 15, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    I like the red fence post pic as well…but all are great. Thanks.

  2. hummingbird lover July 12, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    I had trouble getting on your site? Hope I got it this time? Photo’s are great! Have a good time shooting! Love mom

  3. Elephants Child July 11, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    That red post meaning is wonderful. And how I love the red-tail on the red post.

  4. April Olson July 11, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Very beautiful!
    LOL “post poop look”
    I learned something, I did not know red topped posts meant “No Hunting”. I don’t think I have seen one before, must not be a Utah tradition.

    • Mia McPherson July 11, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      April, they do that here in Utah too.

  5. Nicole July 11, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Fantastic photos – they are all so different! Beware of bothersome birding ladies in big blue trucks!

  6. Patty Chadwick July 11, 2017 at 8:49 am

    You sure have shown a variety of perches! My favorite is the last…like bird, painted/weathered post and background…hope trip continues to be good to you…and lasts as long as you need it to…..

  7. Ilze Long July 11, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Yes Mia, life IS good and I love birds.

  8. Laura Culley July 11, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Oh how spectacular–even factoring in that I’m a fool for redtails, these are simply beautiful. My favorite is the first shot. How many times have I seen that “Yeah, what!” posture.
    I had no idea about the red post message. Thank you for that.
    These shots fill my heart with joy this morning. Thank you!

  9. Kim July 11, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Great images. I had 2 red-tailed hawks sitting in the pine tree in my back yard this morning! They were huge!

  10. Liz Cormack July 11, 2017 at 6:48 am

    The red fence post image is my favourite as well. We are not seeing the Red-tailed Hawks in southern Ontario that we have seen in the past. Climate change???

  11. Lynn July 11, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Just love the red fence post image!

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