Fledgling Red-tailed Hawk Showing Off New Skills – Part 1

This quite young and still clumsy youngster almost seemed to enjoy showing off for me.


1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 200mm, not baited, set up or called in

On this morning about a month ago she (or he, I’ll refer to the bird as female this time) was hanging around a rusty metal enclosure designed to keep cattle away from a spring or seep in Box Elder County. Because of the sloped pipe “fence” these images scream for rotation but it was at approximately that angle in reality so I’m presenting it as it was.

Not long prior to this shot the bird had dropped down to the water in the spring. I couldn’t see her down there (vegetation was in the way) so I don’t know for sure what she was doing but as you’ll soon see she came up a little wet. She landed on the bigger rocks on the background and I figured her intention was to go back to her favorite perch of the morning (the metal pipe) so I switched to my smaller lens so I had a better chance to avoid clipping anything if she did so. She did and I didn’t (clip anything).



1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 200mm, not baited, set up or called in

For such a young and inexperienced bird still learning to fly…



1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 200mm, not baited, set up or called in

she pretty much nailed the landing.

But now that she’d successfully made the landing she had another issue to deal with.



1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 400mm, not baited, set up or called in

Her belly and “pantaloons” were still wet. So she faced the warming sun, spread her wings, and dried them off in classic hawk style. This is a pose I’ve always enjoyed in raptors.

After this she decided to show me how well she could walk the length of that sloping pipe (she did it several times that morning and I posted one series previously). As you’ll see tomorrow her awkwardness and indecisiveness were interesting and entertaining to watch but she was absolutely committed to getting it done. However, including those images here would involve too many photos for a single post so it’s my intention to post Part 2 tomorrow.

Notice, I said “intention”. My life is kind of complicated right now and there’s quite a few images involved so that may or may not happen. If not tomorrow, soon.





25 comments to Fledgling Red-tailed Hawk Showing Off New Skills – Part 1

  • Laura Culley

    Yeah, I love these–you knew I would! Baby redtails are a trip and they’re just so darn cute most of the time.
    I’m going to quibble with you a little. I’d guess that’s a male. Those legs are more in the pencil range of size. I’ve got a 50-50 shot at being right 😉

  • Alice Beckcom

    She appears to be an ingenious hawk and will hopefully do well. I love the photo where you refer to the ‘pantaloons’ and britches. Smart of her to face the sun and expose those areas. Great photos.

  • Thousands of miles away I am smiling so broadly my face hurts.
    Thank you and this curious youngster for improving my day dramatically (computer issues earlier). Wet britches are soooo uncomfortable. I am glad she had some sun to dry them.

    • “Wet britches are soooo uncomfortable”

      Ain’t that the truth!

      I’m having some fairly minor computer issues too but they’re still a pain in the butt.

  • Marty K

    Love the wing position in the first shot. The last shot is pretty slick as well. 🙂 So glad she decided to pose for you.

    Hope the “life complications” aren’t too rough.

  • Pam Skaar

    Is the seep/spring too shallow for her to take a full bath? Maybe she’s not ready for all that added weight, yet.

    A couple years ago I was lucky and still enough to watch a juvenile red tail take a full splashing bath in Pheasant Branch Springs near Madison. I had never seen a raptor bathe before but the stages were similar to other birds. It thoroughly wet itself down, starting with legs and belly, adding head and finally splashing everything with its wing and head movements. It stayed next to the spring for a few seconds before raising its feathers and shaking off as much water as possible. Then it flew heavily to a nearby branch and started preening and fluffing.

    The baby crows I raised did not start timidly. All three totally soaked themselves the first time I presented them with a basin large enough for bathing. The most flight-capable one flew into the side of the cabinet he planned to perch upon. It was a short flight without much momentum and he slid down the cabinet’s side, fluttering to the floor. The other 2 did not repeat his performance and spent some time, on the sides of the basin,, shaking off water before trying flight.

    • No, it’s deep enough, Pam. I wondered if she was just down there exploring or experimenting with water (since not much of her was wet). She seemed curious about a lot of things.

  • Sharon Constant

    Wonderful images and post! I can’t wait for part two.

  • Chris Sanborn

    Have been away for a bit and only occasionally able to look at your posts over the last 10 days — so I’m thrilled to be home and find the beauteous young RTHA here this morning! She’s s perfect specimen. Looking forward to the next photos in the series, whenever you can do that.

  • Susan Stone

    I love this series and am looking forward to part 2. It is an amazing experience to watch young raptors learning to fly, learning about thermals, and just trying all sorts of things to see what they can do.

  • I loved this series. Can’t wait for the next. Sending positive intentions your way.

  • Charlotte Norton

    Great shots Ron! Awaiting the next ones.


  • Wonderful images Ron, her markings are beautiful !

  • Dick Harlow

    Love all the shots, but that second shot with wings outstretched shows all those new feathers in fantastic condition, absolutely beautiful! The images show her intent and determination! Great job!

    • She and her siblings were gorgeous birds when they finally developed their feathers, Dick. It’s interesting to watch how feathers wear (and are replaced) over time.

  • Judy Gusick

    Gorgeous shots, Ron. 🙂 She certainly was working on “getting around” to make the most of her freedom from the nest……. I love the detail in the underside of the wings in the first 2 photos and the “pose” in the 3rd. Hope whatever is complicating your life resolves itself soon…