A Stretched Out Rough-legged Hawk At Takeoff

For a variety of reasons I haven’t been shooting much at Farmington lately but two days ago we finally had a little sun so I decided to give it a go. Birds were fairly plentiful and active but this Rough-legged Hawk was probably the most cooperative individual overall and I had several opportunities with it.


1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This takeoff posture is one of my favorite raptor poses. The raised wings beginning their first downbeat, the flared tail, the stretched-out legs and the spread talons all contribute to the dynamic posture that appeals to me so much. Even though the sun was out the air was still moist and thick (similar to a very thin fog) and that gives a slightly different look to both the background and the bird.

Over the next week we have a series of small storms lined up which should slowly scour our nasty and persistent inversion out of the valleys. I’m looking forward to clean air again but the storms themselves will likely keep me mostly pinned down at home with little light and few promising opportunities with birds. We’ve been in this pattern for most of two months now and I’m getting damned tired of it.

Wherever you are I hope you have light. And breathable air.


27 comments to A Stretched Out Rough-legged Hawk At Takeoff

  • Charlotte Norton

    Awesome shot Ron!


  • Beth Ann Doerring

    Awesome picture! the details really stand out. Colorado Springs is in its 3rd day of fog. Yuck. I need air and sunshine also!

  • Stephen Clayson


    I am suffering through the same air right along with you. South West or not, we are stuck here!

    Stephen Clayson

  • Marty K

    Gorgeous shot! Looking forward to seeing more of this little guy.

    It’s raining here in SoCal again this morning. It’s been fun seeing a good snowcap on the mountains. Plus, I get a free car wash.

  • Susan Stone

    Beautiful shot. I agree with Frank Sheets – the southwest is the place to be. We have beautifully sunny days here in far west Texas. And nice, warm temps…

  • Frank sheets

    Great shot. Come down to the south west.

  • Laura Culley

    Like you, I love that posture. I often think what hubris is involved there. They just open their wings, leap into the sky and flight happens! What magic is this? LOL! 😉
    So sorry for your ICKY weather. I hate that kind of thing going on. I’m fond of breathing regularly and seeing the sky. Wishing you crystal clear and crisp air soon, like immediately if not sooner!

    • Yes, it seems so easy for them, doesn’t it. Laura. I’m always impressed just by their flight but the dynamics of takeoff are often nothing short of spectacular.

  • Patty Chadwick

    BEAUTIFUL!!! Love everything about this shot, especially the wing positions and the composition…and the weathered launching post…. Sorry you’ve been living in the fumes from Hell soup for such an awfully long time…you must have a boatload of asthmatics in SLC…all kinds of breathing problems…it must also effect your energy levels…I hope the rains wash the air for you. We need rain or snow, too…we have a lot of people who don’t read or understand English so don’t respond to our water restrictions and waste water by washing their cars, trucks, even their driveways…our reservoir is quite shallow, so this is a real problem…

    • Patty, the saving grace of this extended weather pattern for us should be plenty of water in the spring. The mountains are loaded with snow and that’s our primary source of water year-round.

    • Marty K

      I know what you mean, Patty! Some neighbors’ lawns have been a little too green and cars a little too clean for drought conditions. Rules are for everybody else.

  • Judy Gusick

    Beautiful! Love the detail in the wings and tail. We have several around this winter for some reason – at least one a juvenile. I’m not real appreciative as they are VERY spooky so photographing them is a challenge and then they clear out the bird feeder and area we give the pheasants a bit of grain – I know – “nature” 🙂 One thing to be said for the wind in North Central MT is that inversions are rare! 🙂

    • “One thing to be said for the wind in North Central MT is that inversions are rare!”

      Judy, From my own experience living in MT I know that the wind up there is a high price to pay but at this point I’d pay it in a heartbeat.

      When our roughies arrive in late fall most of them are spooky too but those hanging around more populated areas eventually calm down and allow a closer approach.

  • Dick Harlow

    Beautiful, great shot! Love the catch of his/her wing flared and the primaries spread out, really nice shot.
    2 Months! Man that stinks!
    We have had very few days of good light, but we have had a few, yet we have had good air!
    Just damn few birds around us for the past three weeks. Have to go far and wide to find them.
    This is a weird year compared to my records.
    Hang in there Ron, weather will get better!!!!

    • “Hang in there Ron, weather will get better”

      I’m trying to, Dick. Typically we make the turnaround from winter to early spring about mid-February when the storm track changes and warmer, more turbulent air prevents the inversions. I can hardly wait – this has been the worst winter for bad air I can remember for quite a few years.

      At least the mountains are getting gobs of snow.

  • Wow… I need to channel that energy! Spectacular shot… thanks!