Red-tailed Hawk gives a menacing look. This guy (or gal) looks a bit mean, eh? It was staking out Union Reservoir in Longmont this past weekend. This capture gives a nice look at its closed, inner eyelid. Many birds have what is called a nictitating membrane. This membrane wipes front to back every few seconds, cleaning the cornea. It is translucent and the hawk can actually see through it.
Well this was kind of a neat one. I went for a photo walk after work yesterday and as I was returning to my truck, I see the silhouette of a hawk in a tree. Assuming it was a run-of-the-mill red tail, I wasn’t particularly careful with my approach.
I wish I had been as when I got close, I realized it was a Harlan’s, a somewhat rare sub-species of the red tail. These raptors are notable for their dark plumage, far different from the more common red tail.
I managed a few shots of it as it took off, not particularly good ones though. As it moved off, much to my surprise, it went and joined a second one in circling the area. I’ll definitely be checking back to see if I can see this pair again and get better images.
Taken in Adams County, Colorado.
It isn’t very often these raptors let you get close. However, when there is food involved, they are far more likely to tolerate a human. Such was the case with this beautiful specimen. It had caught some sort of small mammal, likely a rabbit or prairie dog, and was slowly enjoying the meal. With vultures and magpies just a few feet away, it knew if it left, its meal would be gone so it opted to hang around and continue to eat while keeping watch on the interlopers.
Red-tails are about the most common hawks on the plains but they also aren’t usually prone to hang around for pictures. Every now and then I come across one that is willing to pose and such was the case with this juvenile. It had staked out a nice tree to keep watch on a field, undoubtedly waiting for some poor rodent or snake to appear and become breakfast.
A fun little bit of action here. The Blackbirds had staked out a marshy area as their own and when the hawk decided to patrol overhead, the littler birds were not shy about chasing off the raptor. It was cool to watch as the Blackbirds chased and dived at the hawk.
I’ve seen small birds be aggressive in defending their homes against raptors, Kingbirds and Crows are infamous for this, but this was the first time I have seen Red-winged Blackbirds do it.
Red-tailed Hawks are quite common but not the ones of this variety. I have seen this particular one hanging out along a back-country road northeast of my home a few times but have never had much luck getting a picture. Recently though, the raptor was kind enough to sit still just long enough for me to snap this capture.
Leucism is a genetic mutation that prevents pigments from being properly embedded in feathers thus resulting in lighter than normal coloring. I’ve seen pictures of other hawks with the condition that were far whiter than this one.
A fun little slideshow of a very cool raptor enjoying a meal recently. This hawk had caught its prey in a field and then was kind enough to eat it – whole – right in front of me. Awesome! Taken in Weld County, Colorado.
A very fun encounter with this raptor recently. Driving down a dirt road I see this Red-tailed Hawk dive down from a pole and clearly grab something. I come to a stop and it soon takes off with a mouse firmly in its talons. It circled around giving me a great flyby showing its meal then moved to a second and then a third pole before devouring its meal whole. Taken in Weld County, Colorado.
The soft light of the rising sun and the dramatic fall skies in the background really make this one a personal favorite. This is Karma, a captive bird, used for falconry and education. When my son and I had the opportunity to photograph it at an organized photoshoot last year, we jumped at the chance. It was quite a show and allowed us to get up close and personal with this hawk.
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.
These hawks are very common on the Great Plains and, honestly, a lot of times I don’t give them a second look. However, when I saw this light morph juvenile I felt compelled to take its picture. It was beautifully colored and tolerated my presence. Unfortunately I blew the ‘launch shot’ but got some nice pics of it sitting, even if on a pole.