Rough-legged Hawk In A Unique Flight Posture

I seldom post the same species two days in a row but for this photo I’ll gladly made an exception. The image was taken three days ago at Farmington Bay WMA.


1/3200, f/9, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in

I skipped over this shot on my first review of the unprocessed files from that morning because I assumed the head wouldn’t be sharp enough. Typically with the wings in positions similar to this my active focus points would lock on to one of the wings and I wouldn’t have enough depth of field to get the head (and/or the other wing) sharp. But I’d forgotten that I’d removed my teleconverter and that I was shooting at f/9 and that combination gave me significantly more DOF than I’m used to. As a result the entire bird is sharp or plenty sharp enough. Just goes to show the danger of making assumptions…

Every time I look at this image I find something more to like, including:

  • the peekaboo position of the head poking out from between the two wings
  • the asymmetrical wing position
  • the left leg is extended straight back while the right leg is not
  • I really like the curled talons of the right foot – immediately after the head and eye they’re what grabs my eye
  • if we look carefully at the left leg we can see the feathers that extend all the way to the foot – an adaptation to extreme cold for this arctic species and the source of the name “rough-legged”

Perhaps the background is a little boring but overall this image quickly became one that I like very much.

So I decided to share.



17 comments to Rough-legged Hawk In A Unique Flight Posture

  • Patty Chadwick

    Just admiring this image again…as I ‘ve done several times today…so beautiful in so manys…and to think you almost zapped it!!! Aaargh!!!

  • nikonsteve

    Thanks for sharing…and I agree…outstanding capture.+

  • Marty K

    I have no complaints about two Roughies in a row! Especially a shot as great as this one! As for my favorite part? The answer is: e. All of the above 🙂

  • Patty Chadwick

    Another wonderful picture of a roughie– beautiful composition, beautiful detail, and like Judy, I especially like the asymmetry. When the bird is so striking, there’s little need for a “better” background. Looking at those very long, very sharp talons, I’m, once again, very glad I’m not a vole!!!

  • Jerry Ellison

    Great shot Ron. I totally agree with Susan and Judy’s comments. An rare angle that really works for me! Shows so much of a great bird at once. Just like a couple days ago when you talked about lucky…it helps to be really good too!

  • Susan Stone

    Glad you did share. I like the image a lot, too. It took a while to figure out the left leg. For me one of the positives is that you can see the detail of both the upper side and the underside of the wings, which is unusual. The asymmetry is definitely special.

  • Kris Eberhard

    You call the background “a little boring”, but I think it’s beautifully simple–a frame which allows details, like the almost perfect circle of the talons, and the flick of a gold feather underneath the eye
    to SING…….

    • Kris, I guess the strength of the background depends on your perspective. And tastes. I don’t have a particular problem with it but I thought some might.

  • Judy Gusick

    Great shot, Ron! 🙂 Glad you went back and hadn’t trashed it. For myself I regularly have “expectations” of what I was shooting that whatever my not initially live up to, but later when those “expectations” aren’t there photos like this appear. :)I’d noted the feathers going way down to the foot and the asymmetry throughout really draws me in.

    • “the asymmetry throughout really draws me in”

      Me too, Judy – including the gap in the primaries of the right wing that I didn’t even mention.