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Red Tailed Hawk

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Chow time on the Great Plains

However gruesome it might be, scenes like this are played out routinely in Mother Nature. The relationship between predator and prey is a life-sustaining action and necessary to maintain diversity in the ecosystem. While one life ends, another continues and is renewed. Taken back in January, these images show a Red-tailed Hawk as it devours a rabbit that it had killed in a field.

A Red-tailed Hawk devours a rabbit on the Colorado plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk devours a rabbit on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk devours a rabbit on the Colorado plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk devours a rabbit on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk devours a rabbit on the Colorado plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk devours a rabbit on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Red-tailed Hawk caught off guard by strong winds

A rather dramatic image of this raptor as it banks hard right. I saw this hawk perched on the plains and stopped to snap its picture. It had other plans however and immediately launched into the air, seemingly unaware of the strong east winds that were blowing. As it pushed off the ground and extended its wings, the wind turned those wings into sails and seemed to almost cause the hawk to flip over. It did recover but did not look particularly graceful in the process.

Pushed by the wind, a Red-tailed Hawk flies sideways after launch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Pushed by the wind, a Red-tailed Hawk flies sideways after launch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Red-tailed Hawks make some noise

I was actually looking for owls when I came across this pair of raptors. There was no nest in sight but they sure did not seem to appreciate me being around so I snapped some quick pics and retreated. Skies were overcast so not the prettiest of backgrounds but the birds themselves looked gorgeous. Taken in Thornton, Colorado.

A Red-tailed Hawk screeches as it flies overhead. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk screeches as it flies overhead. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk flies overhead. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk flies overhead. (© Tony’s Takes)

The business end of a raptor

From the smallest falcon to the biggest eagle, raptors are fierce and aggressive predators. Their weapon of choice, their talons, are able to put a vise-like grip on their prey, ripping and puncturing as they sink in. If you ever get a chance to see one up close, you can’t help but be struck by these meat hooks and when you do, you begin to appreciate the damage they can do.

Closeup of the talons of a Red-tailed Hawk.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Closeup of the talons of a Red-tailed Hawk. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rufous Red-tailed Hawk poses proudly

Here’s one I forgot to post from last month. I usually skip right by Red-tailed Hawks as they are quite common and honestly, I just don’t think they usually are very pretty.

This one however, got my attention. It is a rufous-morph so it has much darker and prettier plumage than a normal Red-tail. That red and brown on its chest were very distinctive and this particular one seemed to know it was a cut above the rest of its more ‘normal’ cousins as it stood tall and proud.

If you see a hawk, there is a very good chance it is a Red-tail. They are likely the most common and can be found year-round across much of the contiguous United States.

A handsome rufous Red-tailed Hawk in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A handsome rufous Red-tailed Hawk in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

“Who me? I know nothing about this rabbit that just happens to be lying here.”

“Who me? I know nothing about this rabbit that just happens to be lying here.” 😉

My son and I were out for a morning photo excursion yesterday when we spotted this handsome young Red Tailed Hawk standing on the ground out in the open. They rarely do that and we have learned that if they do, it is usually because they are guarding something. Sure enough, on closer inspection we see that it had managed to snag quite a nice-sized meal. We waited and waited hoping it would dig in but it simply sat there watching us, clearly not wanting to eat with an audience.

A juvenile Red Tailed Hawk stands watch over a rabbit it had killed.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Red Tailed Hawk stands watch over a rabbit it had killed. (© Tony’s Takes)

Red-tailed Hawk launches into the early morning light

Unseasonably warm temperatures, golden light from sunrise and a very willing photo subject made for a perfect morning photo shoot on this day back at the end of October.

If you happen to spot a hawk in North America, there is a good chance it is one of these. They are found across much of the continent and are probably the most common. Typically you will see them perched on utility poles and fences or soaring on thermals keeping an eye out for a meal below.

This particular one is named Karma and is a captive bird used for falconry and education. She and some of her friends were part of a raptor photo shoot that my son and I participated in giving us the opportunity to get some pretty amazing captures.

A Red-tailed Hawk launches into the air with some gorgeous, golden light from the sunrise on it. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk launches into the air with some gorgeous, golden light from the sunrise on it. (© Tony’s Takes)

Back off! This is MY breakfast!

This Red-tailed Hawk did not appreciate the two Magpies that were trying to steal its Prairie Dog meal. Certainly not a great picture as this happened way out in a field and I had to crop it considerably. Nevertheless, the interaction was fun to watch and the picture is a fun one. The hawk spread its wings and hovered over its meal alternating between taking bites and casting the evil eye toward the unwanted guests.

A Red-tailed Hawk guards his Prairie Dog kill against two intruding Magpies. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk guards his Prairie Dog kill against two intruding Magpies. (© Tony’s Takes)

The intense focus of a raptor

While raptors like this Red-tailed Hawk are certainly gorgeous, they are also ferocious predators. With the right look, they can look quite pretty but at the same time be downright intimidating as this pretty lady appears in this capture.

Karma is a captive bird, used for falconry and education. A few weeks ago I and my son got the opportunity to spend a lot of time photographing her and some other raptors up close and personal.

Found across all of North America, Red-tailed Hawks are probably the most common hawk you will see. They are oftentimes perched on poles in rural areas but have adapted well to suburban and urban settings as well.

Closeup of a Red-tailed Hawk as it stares.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Closeup of a Red-tailed Hawk as it stares. (© Tony’s Takes)

Red-tailed Hawk focuses on the landing

This is probably my favorite image from a recent event I attended. Karma is a nine-year-old hawk that is used for falconry and educational purposes by Wild Wings Environmental Education. On this morning, just about everything came together perfectly for this shot – the golden light of the early morning sun, a dramatic sky in the background and of course the extraordinary subject. In the end, this is a capture that I am very proud of.

A Red-tailed Hawk focuses on landing in the early morning light. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk focuses on landing in the early morning light. (© Tony’s Takes)

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