Dark Morph Swainson’s Hawk – Possibly The Darkest I Have Ever Seen

/, Box Elder County, Swainson's Hawks, Utah/Dark Morph Swainson’s Hawk – Possibly The Darkest I Have Ever Seen

Very dark Swainson's HawkVery dark Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Just about one year ago I was thrilled to photograph a very cooperative dark morph Swainson’s Hawk that is possibly the darkest, dark morph I have ever seen. Granted, I see far more light and intermediate morph Swainson’s Hawks than I do the dark morph but in all the time I have been photographing them this one stands out as the darkest.

This dark hawk was especially cooperative and as I photographed it the hawk preened, stretched, roused, rested, defecated and scratched its head. It was very chilly that spring morning and that may have made the Swainson’s less inclined to fly off but I have also noticed that Swainson’s Hawks seem less skittish than the other hawk species that I photograph. Whatever the reason was for it being so cooperative I’m delighted with all the photos I was able to take of this handsome bird.

Dark morph Swainson's Hawk in northern UtahDark morph Swainson’s Hawk in northern Utah – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

This Swainson’s Hawk was photographed soon after these hawks had migrated to northern Utah from South America to come here for their breeding season. I remember hoping this hawk in particular would stick around at the same location and breed, but as I recall I only saw it in the are about two or three times so perhaps it moved on to another less accessible location in northern Utah to find a mate.

Close up of a very dark Swainson's HawkClose up of a very dark Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D500, f9, 1/500, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

It isn’t often that I am in a position to take such intimate portraits of wild birds of prey so when I find cooperative birds and can take the close ups without stressing my subjects I fire off hundreds of shots. To have such a dark, dark morph of this hawk species in my viewfinder was very special for me.

I’m looking forward to photographing all the Swainson’s Hawks I see while they are here for their breeding season, perhaps even another dark morph as handsome as this hawk was.

Life is good.

Mia

6 Comments

  1. Marty K April 18, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    So beautiful!

  2. Elephants Child April 18, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    What a majestic marvel. I too hope you see her again. Often.

  3. Laura Culley April 18, 2018 at 10:13 am

    WOW! I know I’d have been challenged to ID this beautiful girl! Just WOW! Here’s hoping she had many babies to pass on those gorgeous genes!

  4. Patty Chadwick April 18, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Wonderful shots…you could be a professional! 🙂
    Have never seen such a dark hawk…she’s almost black…I wonder what her babies will be like…and how dark future generations of her line will get…love the close up and the detail that I would otherwise miss.

  5. Bob mcpherson April 18, 2018 at 6:38 am

    Yes, handsome.

  6. KathyGrahek April 18, 2018 at 5:44 am

    Wow! Truly a beauty! You captured the feather detail perfectly!

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