One of my favorite wintertime raptors and my favorite city, all in one. This beautiful hawk had staked out a fence post, keeping watch on the prairie dogs nearby and prepping to pounce if a good opportunity presented itself. Behind it, the unmistakable skyline of Denver, Colorado and, of course, those dominating Rocky Mountains.
Ruffled up dark morph ferruginous hawk appears grumpy
Maybe it was the wind that had ruffled its feathers. Maybe it was the guy shoving a camera in its face. Either way, this beautiful raptor didn’t seem too thrilled on this blustery morning last weekend. 😉
Ferruginous hawks are beautiful birds and the dark morphs are really extraordinary. That bright yellow part of its mouth pops when compared to the chocolate brown of the rest of its body.
They are not near as common as the regular morph ferruginous hawks and, in my experience, tend to be a lot more skittish. It has been a couple years since I found one willing to sit and pose like this one did.
Ferruginous hawk reaches for the sky
That’s some pretty good extension, eh? 😉
I happened across this gorgeous ferruginous this past weekend. It did not want to pose for pictures but in its departure, it gave me a great shot at liftoff. You get a nice look at that beautiful plumage and its big 4.5 foot wingspan (the largest of any hawk in North America).
You will also notice those feathers going all the way down its legs. The ferruginous hawk is one of only three raptors in North America that have feathers that go to their feet, the other two being the rough-legged hawk and the golden eagle.
Video slideshow – top shots 2022: Raptors
Beautiful and yet vicious, whether a falcon, hawk or eagle, raptors are amazing creatures and the kings and queens of the skies. I don’t know how many different species of them I have photographed but there have been quite a few from North America’s smallest falcon, the American kestrel, to one of its biggest raptors, the gorgeous golden eagle.
Fabulous ferruginous flight
Boy, these are some absolutely gorgeous raptors. Ferruginous hawks are North America’s largest hawk and get their name from their rusty (ferruginous) shoulders and legs. The light morph ones, like this one, throw in some awesome gray accents and brilliant white underwings and bellies.
Here in Colorado, they are most often spotted during the winter when their numbers grow and they seem to outnumber the ubiquitous red-tailed hawk. This past weekend I saw dozens of them in various locations.
This was one of two that chose to share a perch on a power pole but were not so keen on being photographed. That worked out okay as I was able to nab some nice fight shots.
Ferruginous hawk reaches for the sky
As we get further into the colder months, I am slowly seeing more and more of these cool raptors.
This particular one was staking out a pole on a road near a prairie dog colony but decided it didn’t want its picture taken. This image gives you a nice look at those long legs and the wings that give it a 4 1/2-foot wingspan.
Ferruginous hawks are one of only three American raptors to have feathers all the way down to their feet (the other two being the rough-legged hawk and golden eagle). They are the largest hawk in North America and quite impressive.
Ferruginous hawk stretches out and takes flight
Quite a show from this beautiful raptor! As winter weather begins to take hold, more and more of these cool guys are arriving to the plains of Colorado. This one was hanging out on a fence post, keeping watch then took flight.
The image really showcases that beautiful, white, brown and gray plumage – and its impressive five foot wingspan. More often than not, you will actually find these hawks on the ground, staking out a prairie dog colony hoping to make a meal out of the unsuspecting rodents.
Ferruginous hawk focused and head on
A nice way to cap off a decent photo excursion. My morning had gone pretty well with a good number of wildlife sightings but action was the one thing lacking. The critters had been out and about but just not too motivated to do anything.
Thankfully, this gorgeous raptor corrected that issue as my drive came to an end. It launched from a power pole and rather than departing the area, came right back and circled overhead five or six times. That afforded me some nice captures including this one as it flew right at me.
Ferruginous hawk gives a deadly serious gaze
There is a reason these raptors are one of my favorite hawks and looks like this are why.
Their faces are quite unique, largely due to that mouth gape – what I call their “joker smile.” It is distinctive and certainly gives them some personality. Throw in the crazy cool, multi-colored plumage and the fact that they are the largest buteo in North America and they are just awesome.
I photograph them often here in Colorado, especially during the winter. This particular one is a captive bird, an educational ambassador for a great non-profit called Nature’s Educators.
Ferruginous hawk showcases its beautiful plumage
There are a number of reasons these raptors are my favorite hawks, not the least of which is their coloring. That brilliant white plumage on their underside is just amazing. Throw in some gorgeous, blue Colorado skies and the #bird really pops.
This beautiful ferruginous was hanging out on a pole yesterday and I of course had to stop and snap some pics. It wasn’t too inclined to hang around but as it departed it gave me this nice shot.