Peek-a-boo Rough-legged Hawk – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited
Last year on December 15th I photographed a cooperative and beautiful immature light morph Rough-legged Hawk at Farmington Bay WMA. I took hundreds of photos of the young hawk in flight, landing, with prey in its talons, eating the prey and as it looked around the marsh. I wrote up two separate posts on it last December too and shared photos of it going about the business of being a hawk overwintering in Utah far from the arctic tundra where it had hatched earlier in the year. Those photos showed the young Rough-legged Hawk in action and as it went about the serious business of capturing food so it could stay alive during its first winter, a time when young raptors are at serious risk. So many of them don’t survive their fall migration, the winter or their return to the arctic tundra in the spring. The statistics are sobering and there are times when I photograph immature hawks during the winter and think to myself that “this young hawk might not survive to see the spring thaw” and quite frankly that can be a touch depressing. I know, that is the cycle of life, that it is nature and nature can be harsh.
Today I wanted to share one of the photos of that immature Rough-legged Hawk that made me laugh and that brought a smile to my face that was taken immediately after it landed on the kestrel nest box. Why did it make me laugh and smile? Because it looks like the Rough-legged Hawk might have been playing peek-a-boo as it looked towards me through its wingtips. Of course the hawk wasn’t playing peek-a-boo at all but just the visual suggestion that it might be made me laugh out loud when I viewed this frame on my monitor at home.
Laughter can be good medicine and I’ll take as much of it as I can whenever it is offered.
Life is good.
Rough-legged Hawk facts and information:
- Rough-legged Hawks are have bold, patterned plumage in shades of browns and creams, they have long narrow wings and long tails. They have light, intermediate and dark morphs. Males and females have different appearances.
- Rough-legged Hawks have feathered tarsi, one of only two buteos in North American that have feathered legs, the Ferruginous Hawk is the other. Golden Eagles also have feathered tarsi.
- Rough-legged Hawks breed in the Arctic tundra and taiga and winter in southern Canada and the northern U.S. where they can be seen in fields, marshy areas, prairies and deserts.
- They lay 2 to three eggs which take about 31 days to hatch. The female does most of the brooding.
- Their diet includes lemmings, small mammals, birds and they do eat carrion.
- Rough-legged Hawks hover and kite searching the ground below for prey.
- They eat about a tenth of their weight per day.
- Rough-legged Hawks are usually silent except for when they are on their breeding grounds.
- Nicknames include “Roughy” and “Roughie”.
- Rough-legged Hawks can live up to 18 years or more.