Red-tailed Hawk Takeoff And Flight (six image series)

And the challenge of negotiating branches during the process.

 

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

Yesterday morning we found a pair of juvenile Red-tailed Hawks hanging around together in Box Elder County. They were very close to a busy road and just a little bit nervous. The two hawks were pretty tight with each other so I had to wonder if they were hatch year siblings. When the first one took off this bird eventually followed and I was curious about how it was going to negotiate all those branches and twigs.

 

 

1/4000, 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

One strategy of course was to close its nictitating membranes several times during the takeoff process to help protect its eyes. That’s generally not a good thing for photography but it’s good for the hawk in these situations so I have no problem with it.

 

 

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

It was a pretty tight fit amongst all those twigs. Most of them were behind the bird but there’s a few in front of the right wing primaries and a couple in front of the end of the tail so the bird was threading the needle.

 

 

1/4000, 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

At this point the hawk began to break out into the open and was really scooping some air with its wings.

 

 

1/5000, 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

It began a slight turn to the right…

 

 

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

and soon allowed me my favorite shot of the series. I like the elegant simplicity of this photo with the left wing perfectly vertical, the legs hanging down as a visual counterbalance and the mottled sky background. But for me the near-perfect head turn providing excellent eye contact is the crowning glory of the image. Without it the photo would have been significantly diminished.

It would have been nice if the rosy-tinged clouds in the background were a little better defined but I’ll take it anyway.

Ron

Notes:

  • For this series I left my teleconverter attached to my lens which meant I clipped several shots I otherwise might not have.
  • I very rarely add any saturation to my photos during processing but for these images I chose to add a slight amount (+7 on the slider in Photoshop).

 

 

Rough-legged Hawk With Jackrabbit Prey

Even though this may not be a “pretty” shot it’s photos like this that stir my soul because all of its elements are natural and the prey gives us a glimpse of the rawness of nature.

 

1/5000, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 400 mm, not baited, set up or called in

I photographed this juvenile Rough-legged Hawk on a jackrabbit near the Golden Spike National Historic Site in a relatively remote area of Box Elder County last February. I’ve posted a couple of shots of this bird previously but this one (and this pose) are new to my blog.

I especially appreciate images like this because there’s nothing in it that isn’t natural including bird, prey, sagebrush, snow and blood. Seeing this predator/prey relationship in such a natural setting adds a primal touch for me. How many times has a scene similar to this one played out in past millennia when no humans were around to witness it? That thought gives me pause.

And for a few moments at least it allows me to escape the rapidly increasing ugliness of much of today’s world.

Ron

PS – Apologies to subscribers. Last night (for the second time in my blogging career) while I was working on this post I mistakenly hit the “publish” button instead of the “save draft” button so the post published for a few seconds before I could intervene. That meant that the email with the link to the post went out to subscribers prematurely and if you tried that link it didn’t work.

Hate it when I do stupid stuff!