My First Ferruginous Hawk In Over Four Months

It’s been way too long.

Over the years Ferruginous Hawks have been a favorite subject of mine even though my opportunities with them have never been numerous. I see them occasionally here in Utah but I’ve always been more successful with them in Montana. Normally by now I’d have made about four camping trips to Big Sky Country but for a variety of reasons I’ve only been there once this summer and Ferrugs were uncharacteristically elusive on that trip. So the last time I’ve spent any quality time with a Ferruginous Hawk was here in Utah way back on June 2 of this year – over four months ago.


1/3200, f/7.1, 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

But yesterday morning this handsome bird in Utah’s west desert allowed me a close approach. I like the rustic old fence post, the darker, layered background and the interesting, partial side light on the hawk. Of course I also wanted some takeoff and flight shots but when the bird eventually launched it took off away from me.

I suppose on some levels this photo is just another “bird on a stick” but I do like the stick and you can imagine how I feel about finally having another opportunity with this truly regal species – the largest and most powerful of all of our buteos. I often think of Ferruginous Hawks as “wannabe Golden Eagles” and Birds of North America Online apparently agrees:

  • “Both species have feathered tarsi, both build huge nests on cliffs and in trees, and both lay eggs that are very similar except in size; food habits, flight, behavior, and voice of the two are much alike.”




38 comments to My First Ferruginous Hawk In Over Four Months

  • Marina schultz

    Beautiful !!! If you ever get the urge to come my way next summer .. I had a successful nest for 2 nd year in a row. .. afforded lots of pictures of juvies learning to fly

  • I’ll take your “just another bird-on-a-stick” posts over most of what’s online these days, professor. 😀

  • Nicole

    Incredible photo! “bird on a stick” is not a regal description of this regal creature! Reminds me of what my husband calls chicken satay from the Thai restaurant – meat on a stick!

  • Marty K

    Magnificent bird on the perfect perch in front of the perfect background. It don’t get no better than this (well, unless it’s a Golden Eagle — teehee 😉 ).

  • Patty Chadwick


  • Patty Chadwick

    Got Mia’s , now yours. I like “birds on. A stick”…especially when it’s a wooden stick…gives the stick a better reason for existing…background is especially nice in this image…colors, layers….

    • Laura Culley

      Yeah, what Patty said! Weathered fence posts are excellent perches and they MUST stay! Otherwise…well I don’t want to go there with all the rest of the ca-ca going on in the world!

    • Patty and Laura, around here we have lots weathered fence posts, many of them very old, but sadly they’re rapidly replacing them with those ugly new metal painted posts.

      • Laura Culley

        As you know, I’m NOT a big fan of progress…not a fan at all! In fact, I’ve pondered the logical path to the conclusion of capitalism. It ain’t pretty. In fact, this is another time I’m thankful to be a geezer so I won’t see a whole lot more progress.
        I can’t believe that folks can’t see that there’s no character or beauty in metal(s). They’re cold and dead. Wood, on the other hand…

  • April Olson

    Very lovely, my daughters favorite bird.

  • Australian slang says it for me. Not a bird on a stick – but ‘heaven on a stick.’ Glad your addiction was fed.

  • Alice Beckcom

    Ron, it is hard to find the words to describe this photo, but Dick Harlow certainly captured a few of them.

    I like the background and the ‘stick’, which might be an old fence post.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Elmer Deloso

    You captured both its majesty and the background’s serenity. Thanks for sharing.

  • Trudy Brooks

    Beautiful Hawk. I don’t no much about hawks, but interesting to see pretty pictures, that you post. Thank you Ron.

  • Susan Stone

    Gorgeous portrait of a bird I’ve never seen. Sticks are far better perches than power poles, wires, devil-wire fences, etc. This is another one of those 3D images which really shows the bird off nicely. It was definitely worth waiting for this one.

  • nikonsteve

    I agree with Mr. Harlow…not enough superlatives…simply beautiful…Thank you, Ron

  • Dick Harlow

    Beautiful, Awesome, Handsome ALL superlatives abound for this image!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Charlotte Norton

    Beautiful shot Ron!

  • Jerry Ellison

    beautiful shot Ron and I agree with Judy, the background colors provide wonderful complimentary variety to the Hawk and I like the stick too! Some things you just can’t plan for or control but that’s part of the fun!

  • One of my regrets of living in Minnesota is that this most regal of the buteos is not native. I’ve never seen one in the wild. I should take a trip sometime further west and add this bird to my list. I would love to trap and fly one for falconry, except I am warned they do not care too much for areas that have many trees, preferring the wide open landscape. Also, you are correct that they are essentially an eagle . . . and those birds should only be flown by the most experienced.

    • Carolyn, I’ve heard from others that they’re a difficult species to use for falconry.

    • Laura Culley

      Hey Carolyn!! Hope you’re well!
      From the falconers I’ve heard from who have flown Ferrugs, they really like wide open spaces. It’s a pity Richard moved here because he had a terrific field just outside of Denver that was loaded with cottontails and prairie dogs. It was a perfect place to fly a Ferrug! In fact, there was a resident pair there and I got to watch their sneak-attack strategy with prairie dogs several times, along with their ability to use that huge gape, making quick work of either prairie dogs or cottontails! That’s pretty impressive!
      All that said, I’ll quibble with the idea that Ferrugs are “this most regal of the buteos.” Redtails have that category nailed! 😉
      Ferrugs are just gorgeous (you KNEW I’d say that, didn’t you? LOL!). And indeed, I see them as a smaller eagle for the variety of reasons you mentioned. Glad to know that some of the -ologists agree with us!
      And Dick Harlow is RIGHT! We need a whole bunch of new superlatives if we’re going to hang out here. I’ll try to come up with a few after my guests leave and I’ve finished cleaning/sorting out my house. HA like I can finish that cleaning thing–ever! It is to laugh.

  • frank sheets

    Everything comes together in this “photograph” Ron. Beautiful everything. In no way a “bird on a stick”. The artist is coming out in you! Definitely worth the wait.

  • Judy Gusick

    Beautiful bird – the background really adds to the photograph.:) Glad you were able to find one in Utah……………