A recent article in High Country News brought back many fond memories of photographing Ferruginous Hawks in Montana.
The High Country News used this image of mine in a comprehensive article about Ferruginous Hawks (written by Maya L. Kapoor) in their March 6 issue of the magazine. It’s a wonderfully written tribute to Ferruginous Hawks but it’s more than that – much more. The article discusses the rewards and challenges of using un-releasable raptors as education birds and the value of and controversies involved with rehab facilities that nurse injured wildlife back to health. If you’re a subscriber to the magazine (hard copy or online) I’d highly recommend that you read the thought-provoking article and if you’re one of the many wildlife rehabbers who follow my blog I’d be interested in your thoughts about Kapoor’s take on raptor rehabilitation.
Maya, a 12 year old female Ferruginous Hawk who fell out of her nest in Montana as a fledgling, is the centerpiece of the article. Maya is now used as an education bird in the Raptor Free Flight program at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum outside of Tucson.
I received my complimentary copy of High Country News a few days ago and reading the article and seeing my image again brought back a flood of memories of my experiences with Ferruginous Hawks, particularly in Montana (the nest above was in Beaverhead County, MT), so I thought I’d include two more images taken at that nest back in June of 2013.
Here one of the adults is shading the chicks in the nest from the hot sun (I took the photo when one of them popped out for a moment to investigate its surroundings). This nest was absolutely massive – so much so that it reminded me of an eagle’s nest.
- It’s important to note that nesting Ferruginous Hawks are notoriously sensitive to human intrusion and may abandon the nests and/or chicks if they’re disturbed. I took these photos from inside my pickup on a public road with a supertelephoto lens at an effective focal length of 1120mm and the photos were cropped significantly. The hawks were acclimated to traffic on the road. I would never approach or disturb nesting raptors of any species but Ferruginous Hawks in particular.
I thought I’d “end” with an image that might make readers smile. Here one of the chicks is forcefully ejecting feces far from the nest – a behavior common to many raptor species as a sanitation device to keep the nest clean. This photo was taken 10 days after the previous one – note how much the chick has grown in that relatively short time.
High Country News is a highly respected publication that I suspect some of my readers subscribe to. This from Wikipedia:
- High Country News is a non-profit news media source, publishing a magazine, a popular website and a weekly op-ed column service, along with special reports and books. The organization covers the American West’s public lands, water, natural resources, grazing, wilderness, wildlife, logging, politics, communities, growth and other issues now changing the face of the Western United States.
If you’re a subscriber I highly recommend that you read the article. Here’s a link to it but you must subscribe or sign up for a free trial before you can see most of it.