Ferruginous Hawk Perched, Taking Off And In Flight

This largest of the North American buteos put on quite a show for me as it lifted off in beautiful light with dark mountains in the background.

 

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Four days ago I photographed this magnificent raptor in Tooele County as it perched at the top of a hill with the Stansbury Mountains in the background. The bird was in nice light and the much darker mountains provided a backdrop that I like a lot.

 

 

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

The hawk gave enough indication that it was about to take off that I could “plan” for it but this time my plan went amiss. The large hill slopes steeply immediately in front of the bird and I figured the big, heavy bird would use its elevation as a tool to avoid expenditure of extra energy by taking off at a horizontal or slightly downward angle so I instinctively allowed plenty of room in the frame below the bird. That was a mistake because…

 

 

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

it meant that I clipped the wings on the most dynamic pose in the series (despite the clipped wings I included this image for you Marty K, since you asked to see it…).

 

 

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 320, 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 is the photo I posted several days ago but I wanted to include it in the series for continuity.

 

 

1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

As the hawk gained elevation it reached a notch in the mountains in the background that…

 

 

1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

placed it almost entirely against blue sky.

But then things went south on me. As soon as the bird reached more mountains on the right I lost focus on the hawk. I have 24 more shots where the bird is either slightly soft or a blurry blob – once I lost my lock on the hawk I just couldn’t reacquire it and that broke my heart. I probably had more focus points active (5) than I should have and my camera couldn’t decide if my intended subject was the hawk or the background mountains.

It’s all part of the game – in bird photography “stuff” happens. But next time it occurs I hope it isn’t with a subject as magnificent as a Ferruginous Hawk in flight.

Ron

 

 

 

31 comments to Ferruginous Hawk Perched, Taking Off And In Flight

  • Stephen Clayson

    Ron,

    Great shots. Beautiful bird. Thanks.

    SEC

  • Chris Sanborn

    That IS one gorgeous hawk, Ron. I really like the first image of the hawk in its element, surveying its territory …. then the lift-off shot, yes, too bad about the wing-clipping but still such a great view of all the outstretched body parts. And, of course, the 4th image with beautiful wings in motion, legs and talons on display … A great series and I’m glad you posted it.

  • Laura Culley

    Just when you think it’s all under control…LOL!! What a stunning beauty!! I really need to make up some more words here. This sheer, raw, splendid, powerful beauty is just OH WOW! And despite the issues with being human and all, I’m so grateful that you do what you do and bring this sheer, raw, splendid, powerful beauty to either begin, or in this case, end my day. Thank you is just not enough. Suffice to say I could just hug you and Mia every day.
    I spent the day hanging out with another falconer, two 12-day-old Harris’ hawks and their mother and father who were not that happy about me being on their part of the planet! I only went outside once and watched them mostly through a window, but they knew. I got stink eye from Mom BEFORE the eggs arrived and uber stink eye through the window from both parents today. Once the mister went on, it went back to simple stink eye. The little ones are still yellow fuzzball bobbleheads, BUT feathers have just appeared in tiny little nubbins. Their falconer is allowed out into the aviary (he brings the food multiple times a day), but … I just love watching them parent. They do it so well.
    My other friends with two goshawk eggs go on pip/hatch watch tomorrow.

    • Laura Culley

      Oh and I even wore my special “Kings of the Wind” Harris’ hawk cap, too…Harrumph! Mom and Dad weren’t buying that! 🙂

  • Patty Chadwick

    I realize that time for comments is probably over, but keep reviewing this wonderful series and find myself drawn again and again to the last shot, too…BEAUTIFUL!!!

    • Patty, Time for comments is never over – at least it isn’t until 10 days after the post has been published when comments are officially closed. I had to set it up that way to deal with spammers.

  • I do feel your pain at the amputation. Like Patty I like the image anyway (and see you do too).
    Love the britches too. Which you knew.
    And the fourth image is well nigh perfect (even if the britches are hidden).

  • Patty Chadwick

    Clipped wings of not, my favorite is the third image –with what I think of as the “fling” shot–wings flung high for the take off power downstroke…I’m sure it hurts you to look at it (and see what might have been),but I think it’s beautiful.. My imagination fills in any missing parts….

  • Nicole

    Gorgeous series of photos!

  • Susan Stone

    I really like the dark mountains as a background for this bird. And I also like the clipped wing shot, for both the energy and the details. I’ve seen plenty of shots with blue sky background that I like just fine, but this series shows exactly why they are not necessarily the best background.

  • Marina schultz

    Awsome!!!!!! I’m going to go visit them this week .. see how they are doing .. count the babies..

  • Jerry Ellison

    Great shots Ron…what a beautiful Hawk..thanks for sharing!!

  • Marty K

    Clipped wings or not, I absolutely love that shot! There’s so much raw energy and power — and britches (I always want to call them pantaloons)! That slight turn of his head is so regal. Thank you for including it. I feel like I’ve received a special morning gift from you. 🙂

    C’est magnifique!

  • Zaphir Shamma

    The wing-clip is minor…I know you wanted to get it and you did your best to anticipate. Wildlife is a true wildcard…it could have gone either way. In that clipped photo, the hawk almost looks like it has on western chaps worn by cowboys. They are all great photos Ron…beautiful and great to view in the morning with a cup of coffee…thank you 🙂

  • gilly rolbein

    magnificent

  • Charlotte Norton

    Magnificent series Ron!

    Charlotte

  • Wonderful series, Ron. I especially like the 4th images, which seems to be so in focus as to appear suspended in air. This is definitely a magnificent species!

  • Judy Gusick

    Sigh…….. Tho I’m sure that’s NOT what you did when you lost focus! 🙂 Beautiful shots of what you did get! #1 and 2 are gorgeous with that background!