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Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk shows off for the photographer

I happened across this seasonal visitor yesterday. It was a bit indecisive trying to decide if it wanted to take off or hang out and have its picture taken. Thankfully, its hesitation allowed me to capture a nice shot of this visitor from the Arctic.

Rough Legged Hawks spend their summers in the Arctic where they mate and then spend winters in southern Canada and the lower 48. One of their most notable features is that their legs are feathered all the way down to the toes, one of only three American raptors like that. The other two being the Ferruginous Hawk and the Golden Eagle.

A Rough-legged Hawk raises its wings as it contemplates taking flight on the plains of Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rough-legged Hawk raises its wings as it contemplates taking flight on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

No trespassing enforcer

This Rough-legged Hawk wanted to ensure I was behaving myself near this field northeast of Denver last weekend. 😉

Rough-legged Hawks spend their summers in the Arctic where they mate and then spend winters in southern Canada and the lower 48. I’ve been seeing quite a few in recent weeks as their seasonal population here builds. Hopefully I can get some better pics of them like I did last year.

One of their most notable features is that their legs are feathered all the way down to the toes, one of only three American raptors like that. The other two being the Ferruginous Hawk and the Golden Eagle.

A Rough-legged Hawk stands guard on a no trespassing sign. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rough-legged Hawk stands guard on a no trespassing sign. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rough-legged Hawk Enforces the No Passing Zone

Judging by the stare, this guy (or gal) means business when it comes to traffic control. 😉

This past winter there was unusually high number of these cold weather residents on the Colorado plains. While we do see them, this year there were more than normal and it made for a lot of great photo opportunities as they can be quite tolerant of people.

This particular one was keeping watch over a field, looking for a chance to snag a meal. It was certainly aware of me but chose to worry more about finding something to eat than the guy with the camera.

Rough Legged Hawks spend their summers in the Arctic where they mate and then spend #winters in southern Canada and the lower 48. One of their most notable features is that their legs are feathered all the way down to the toes, one of only three American raptors like that. The other two being the Ferruginous Hawk and the Golden Eagle.

A Rough-legged Hawk seems to be playing traffic cop on Colorado's plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rough-legged Hawk seems to be playing traffic cop on Colorado’s plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Focused on the landing!

Boy, it has been such a pleasure having so many of these little hawks around this winter – far more than usual. This particular Rough-legged Hawk provided me with so many awesome captures in recent months, including this one as it came in for a landing. It had chosen an area right along a busy road north of Denver International Airport as its winter grounds and clearly did not mind the traffic – or me with my camera.

A Rough-legged Hawk keeps watch on his landing spot in a tree near Denver International Airport. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rough-legged Hawk keeps watch on his landing spot in a tree near Denver International Airport. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rough Legged Hawk just chilling out

Rough Legged Hawk just chilling out. It was a very cold morning on the Colorado Front Range when I took this picture as you can tell from the frost on this poor guy. He normally is very willing to pose for pictures and this day was no different but I suspect it may have been because he simply was too darned cold. 😉 There are quite a few of these Arctic visitors here this year, far more than I have seen in year’s past. It won’t be long though and they will head north.

A Rough Legged Hawk endures a very cold morning on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

An Amazing Encounter with a Visitor from the Arctic

Opportunities like this don’t come along often. I was driving the back roads of Adams County, Colorado when I see a Rough Legged Hawk sitting on a ‘No Passing Zone’ sign.

I was a bit late spotting it so stopped closer than what I normally would but the hawk didn’t seem to mind. After snapping a bunch of pics I get out and walk closer and then a bit closer still. The hawk totally ignores me – looking around, preening, stretching – never once did it acknowledge I was there.

Needless to say, I snapped a ton of pictures as I circled around it. I became a bit worried it might be injured so I went and sat in my truck and just watched it for a while. Thankfully it eventually flew off and hunted a nearby field for a good while before perching in a tree.

In the end, I got some very cool captures of this Arctic visitor. Scroll down to view the complete series.

A Rough Legged Hawk looks skyward.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rough Legged Hawk looks skyward. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rough Legged Hawk takes flight

These little hawks have become my latest mini-obsession. I have been seeing quite a few in my usual raptor hot spots but getting good pics of them has been a challenge. A few days ago I finally got some decent flight shots of two of them but am still trying to get a truly good capture of one sitting.

Rough Legged Hawks spend their summers in the Arctic where they mate and then spend winters in southern Canada and the lower 48. One of their most notable features is that their legs are feathered all the way down to the toes, one of only three American raptors like that. The other two being the Ferruginous Hawk and the Golden Eagle.

A Rough Legged Hawk takes flight on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rough Legged Hawk takes flight on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rough-legged Hawk waits for the warmth

With early morning temperatures below zero, this raptor was in no rush to go hunting. It instead opted to just hang out and sit in a snowy field which was good as it gave me a chance to snap a picture of it. I have very, very few pictures of these guys as they aren’t all that common and usually prefer areas away from people.

They spend their summers in the Arctic where they mate and winters in southern Canada and the lower 48. One of their most notable features is that their legs are feathered all the way down to the toes, one of only three American raptors like that. The other two being the Ferruginous Hawk and the Golden Eagle.

A Rough-legged Hawk rests in a snow-covered field on Colorado's plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rough-legged Hawk rests in a snow-covered field on Colorado’s plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Female Northern Harrier enforces the No Passing Zone

Driving along north of Denver International Airport this past Sunday my son and I come across a hawk perched on top of the sign. I was unable to tell what kind it was so we pull over and I point my camera at it to get a better look. Just as I lift my camera up, my son yells, “Incoming! Here comes another!”

Quickly I squeezed off a couple of captures as a female Northern Harrier takes a swipe at the first hawk, chasing it off. None of the pictures came out great but this one isn’t too bad and is a fun and unique capture.

Oh, and that first hawk? It was a Rough-legged Hawk, a raptor that spends summers in the Arctic, winters in the lower 48.

A Northern Harrier chases off a Rough-legged Hawk.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Northern Harrier chases off a Rough-legged Hawk. (© Tony’s Takes)