This industrious pair has been refurbishing their nest for weeks.
1/2500, f/6.3, 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
I photographed this mated pair of Red-tailed Hawks at their nest nine days ago in northern Utah. In a previous post of some images of the male several readers asked to see the female – that’s her on the right. On this morning both birds were bringing twigs and sticks to the nest and in this shot the male is taking off to search for more nesting material.
1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
Six minutes later the male returned with a delivery – this time a very small twig that’s a little difficult to see in his beak. Because of the cliff directly behind the nest these birds nearly always landed with their backs to me so this is as close as I came to getting a side view of a landing. It isn’t an ideal perspective on the bird but I decided to include the photo because I really like the “big reach” of the outstretched legs and the widely fanned tail. Notice the askew feather sticking straight up between the neck and the base of the wing.
1/1600, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
I thought this shot was kind of unique. We get a good look at both birds with the female watching his takeoff intently. Here the female has ducked down to avoid having her head taken off by his wing during the explosive takeoff – something she clearly anticipated. I often see the same behavior with Osprey’s at their nest. I was also happy to get both birds sharp since the male is significantly in front of the female.
I’m always very sensitive to disturbing birds of any species at their nest. But these hawks chose to build their nest adjacent to a road and they’ve become acclimated to traffic (including large, noisy trucks) and other human activities. I photographed them from inside my pickup parked on the road (I never got out) and I was using a super telephoto lens attached to a cropped frame camera and teleconverter which meant I was shooting at an effective 1120 mm – even so these images have been cropped significantly. And I watched very carefully to make sure that my presence didn’t alter their behavior or disturb them in any way.
If it had I’d have left the area immediately. The photo is never worth disturbing birds at the nest. Not ever.