A Hawk, A Meadowlark And A Kingfisher Engulfed In The Golds Of Fall

The golds of fall come in many tones and shapes, just like the birds I often find surrounded by them.


1/1000, 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

Immediately after leaving Farmington Bay WMA yesterday morning we somewhat unexpectedly found this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk perched beneath a canopy of golden leaves. The bird was slightly backlit so there’s no light on its face but I like the pre-takeoff pose, the colors of the leaves and even part of the perch that to my eye resembles the profile of an approaching raptor in flight (maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but it did immediately come to mind when I saw the photo).



1/3200, 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

Earlier the same morning I photographed this Western Meadowlark perched on rabbitbrush along the Antelope Island causeway. I’ve always loved flowering rabbitbrush as a perch and wished that more birds would perch on it but many of them seem to avoid rabbitbrush for some reason. Perhaps it’s because of the smell of the flowers. Some folks like that smell because it reminds them of pineapple but to others it has a foul, rubbery smell giving rise to its species name “nauseosa”.

Some humans are allergic to rabbitbrush pollen but thankfully I don’t have that problem. Living where I do I’d be in a world of hurt if I did.



1/6400, f/7.1, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Yup, I’m still working on kingfishers and usually failing miserably as of late. I photographed this male several days ago as he took off after another fish. This was one of the relatively few times he was unsuccessful.

I do wish he’d been a little closer for better detail on the bird but for me those beautiful background colors from the turning leaves deserve some space of their own anyway. The kingfisher is centered in the frame because I didn’t have any choice.

This is a special time of year here in northern Utah because of the fall colors. The golds of our cottonwoods in the valley bottoms and aspens higher up and the reds of the scrub oaks on the lower slopes of the mountains can make very pleasing additions to the backgrounds of my bird photos.

And they occasionally help to mitigate some of their shortcomings…






32 comments to A Hawk, A Meadowlark And A Kingfisher Engulfed In The Golds Of Fall

  • Pam Skaar

    The hawk photo is one of my favorites – and that’s sayin’ something for your site. I can’t explain why I like it so much but both the hawk and the leaves have a Van Gogh like painterliness to me.

  • Laura Culley

    Oh just WOW, WOW, WOW! Three of my favorites (yeah, you KNOW you had me with the redtail, but it goes onward, too!).
    One thing I’m really going to miss a lot is the aspens. When I lived in Wyoming, I LOVED watching them in the fall as they screamed YELLOW!!! What a glorious sight. So I’m a little envious of you today. But I chose to move near a gang of falconers flying Harris’ hawks.
    Oh, that reminds me! Jack made his first catch on Saturday. After a beautiful head-first dive into a thick mesquite, he caught–wait for it–a ROCK! Granted, the rock was the size of a bunny holding tight. It was even the same color-ish, but boy was he POed when he figured it out. Poor baby! So that just goes to show that all of us have those Oh-POOP! moments 😉
    I THINK I’m seeing a life bird–can’t remember how to spell it, but the blue-jay-sized bird that’s dark blue/black with a blue-jay-like crest. Begins with a ph, but I’ve got to go to town now. DARGH! Wish this brain would work properly. Wish I could remember to take my binocs in the car AND get the darn things where I could see properly before the ph bird takes wing again, too. But I think the chances of that are slim to yeah, not happening.

    • Thanks, Laura. I think the bird you’re referring to is the Phainopepla. I’d love to see one some day.

    • Marty K

      Laura, please apologize to Jack for me — when you said he caught a rock, I immediately laughed out loud at his plight. Totally reminds me of poor ol’ Charlie Brown getting rocks while Trick-or-Treating. 😉

      • Laura Culley

        Yeah, Marty, I laughed too, so don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. I mean REALLY?
        Then, I followed up with The Mouse Chronicles Chapter 6 with the Kestrel. That’s getting to be a saga of my human inadequacies–I neglected to tape the bottom of the bathroom door, the mouse skedaddled rapidly and mayhem ensued with four dogs! The mouse was captured soon after, but it was mostly cartoonish.
        Ron, I’m PRETTY sure that’s it! It would be a lifer for me. Feel free to come on down, assuming I can make a positive ID! Well, you’re welcome anytime…

  • Arboreal fireworks make a most excellent backdrop. And have the huge advantage that they don’t frighten (or damage) the wildlife.

  • Alice Beckcom

    I especially like the first image of the juvenile red-tailed hawk as we are able to see so much of that white under the wing. I see, like you do, the part of the perch that looks like a raptor in flight. I noticed the very strong legs and how tightly the talons hug that branch.

    Thanks for the great photos, Ron.

  • Susan Stone

    I like all of these images, and especially enjoy seeing the fall color, because we pretty much don’t have enough trees here to give us that kind of color.

  • Betty Sturdevant

    You have a very artistic eye. I agree with the comment in the first one about the branch evoking an approaching bird. Beautiful pictures.

  • Love the fall colors as a backdrop for these beautiful bird images Ron. I am thinking the birds also love the colors of fall — perhaps not, since they know the cold and long winter is coming next.

  • Marty K

    A “smorgasbird” day, complete with beautiful fall foliage garnish! I especially like the mirroring of yellows and browns between the rabbit brush and the meadowlark.

  • Charlotte Norton

    Outstanding series Ron!


  • Patty Chadwick

    PNothing like the gold of Aspen leaves in the fall, especially when they are punctuted by dark evergreens…these are beautiful images…the fist is a favorite ….but what happened to Spring???

  • Joanne OBrien

    Thank you for these beautiful photos! The first two are killers. You are amazing! That Meadow Lark looks so majestic!!

  • Judy Gusick

    Beautiful! The autumn foliage does add to the photos. 🙂 The hawk surrounded by the leaves is especially pleasing. The ferocious winds of late have taken care of any fall color we had here.

  • Just glorious! I especially enjoyed the almost painterly quality in the photograph of the hawk–where the leaves are flashing full sunlight–white–they echo the beautiful underwing markings
    of the bird……I don’r recall seeing a hawk against a surround of foliage before, and is it ever spectacular !

  • elizabeth sawin

    Thanks for sharing part of the beauty of your region with us. The Midwest is also turning gold and red.

  • Zaphir Shamma

    Beautiful photos all Ron!! Thank you for sharing.