Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk Rousing While Lifting Off

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Rousing leap from a juvenile Red-tailed HawkRousing leap from a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

As a bird photographer who spends enormous amounts of time in the field with my feathered subjects I am able to see avian behaviors that other people don’t see who aren’t focused on birds. Of course they probably see things I don’t because my mind is so often zeroed in on birds.

Two years ago today I went up north not quite to Idaho to look for raptors and other birds to photograph. One has to get up early to be there when the sun rises because it is a long drive but it can be highly productive for raptors there or it can be a flop, you just never know. That day except for a surprise great Horned Owl the far northern leg of the trip was pretty much a flop.

On the way home I did spot a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a power pole near a spring and I put my lens on it because I was hoping it would take flight after it finished preening itself on the pole. The scenery there is gorgeous so I didn’t mind waiting to see if the young raptor would take flight.

When the young Red-tailed Hawk finished preening I thought it would rouse and then take off but it decided to rouse and lift off at the same time…

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk rousing after lift offJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk rousing after lift off – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

And the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk was still rousing as it took flight. As I recall I was laughing and taking photos at the same time because it just looked so odd to see it rousing while leaping off of the pole. After I took this image the hawk stopped rousing and flew away. You never know what you will see as a bird photographer.

Life is good.



  1. Elephants Child July 31, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    And what stunning moments you captured. Love it. And thank you.

  2. Anita Cothern Austin July 31, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Priceless! Almost looks like it’s getting ready for a cannonball into water and then suddenly takes flight. Worth the wait.

  3. Patty Chadwick July 31, 2017 at 10:00 am

    An interesting, unusual situation to capture…I difn’t even kniw they coukd do thst…

  4. Laura Culley July 31, 2017 at 8:55 am

    LOL! I LOVE it! Of course, you have me at redtail, but the juvies are just flat cool! I think rousing while taking off is just showing off in the context of I can fly–you can’t.
    And you’re right. Since you’re out there, regularly and for long periods of time, you get to see lots of behaviors that most people will never see/know! I’ve got the same thing going as a falconer, although it’s much more species specific than your perspective.
    For the last 40-ish years since I’ve been watching birds, my eye is instantly attracted to ANY movement in the sky. Do you experience that, too? You just never know who might be zooming through your vision and checking it out is obsessively compelling to me. When I’m talking to other people outside, I’m CERTAIN that annoys them beyond words because they think I’m not paying attention. But there you have it. I must follow that movement to see who it is. There’s no other choice to me. Those are my SQUIRREL(!) moments and I might not be paying attention to the human. LOL!

  5. Liz Cormack July 31, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Great shots. It seems to be intently looking at the ground. I wonder if that is why it was still rousing while taking off, that it didn’t want to miss the opportunity…..which it did if it flew off.

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