I’m fortunate to live in a Red Tailed Hawk habitat, I hear the shrill calls from a distance from them. Some birds announce their presence and this Hawk is one of them. They are the Apex predator in my stretch of the woods, one of the most common Hawks in the Americas from Canada through Central America as well. The chances of seeing them while on a long drive or a walk through the woods are a given, they are everywhere.
I had this opportunity to photograph our local neighborhood female, she is larger than the males presenting a commanding present. Normally flying in pairs the male will follow the female out of their nesting tree to the East of me 300 yards; they have nested and mated there for several years.
They are prolific hunters, when they are out it impacts the presence of the smaller birds. Early morning is their first hunt then noon and finally at dusk. The small birds know the schedule as not a bird will be seen during those hours with exceptions. Ravens and Crows are not intimidated by them in the least often seen chasing them through the sky pecking at their tail feathers. Ravens are the same size as a medium sized Hawk and is difficult to tell the difference from a distance.
The photo above displays how intimidating they are merely by showing up; they seem to have a perrinial scowl on their faces with a frown as an exclamation point. I normally don’t keep belly shots however this one for me is an exception as it has a certain charisma; it has an attractive feature causing a prolonged look from some viewers.
The clouds in the background add an interesting touch to this photo which is another showing the birds intensity. Constantly on the hunt their diet consist mainly of small mammals. Mice, Ground Squirrels and Mink are just a small variety they subsist on.
Taken immediately after the above photo this has the same clouds in the background. The Hawks have not been gracing the skies lately as it is mating season and they are tending to their nests. If the eggs have not been laid yet they soon will be. There is a mating pair with a nest in the utility tower 900 yards from my waterside deck, they are active staying close to the nest. They are much too far for me to see if there are chicks in the nest 900 yards is about 600 yards too far for my 600mm lens.
They can be seen every month of the year; however they do go on vacations. I haven’t been able to get a good close photo in a long time. All I am able to come up with is their absence may have something to do with the weather. But I have seen them during some bad weather events. They have been seen hunting directly in the smoke from wildfires. In Australia it has been documented by Ranchers of the Hawks picking up flaming materials then dropping it in a dry zone and starting another fire. No such reports have originated in the Americas.
Photographers are addicted to purchasing more “stuff”, it is due to the constant upgrading and invention of new ideas. Some are Ho-Hum others are genius. I bought two such items lately; a Gimbal for my tri-pod and a chest sling to clip my camera onto. The Gimbal is a apparatus that allows free movement in all directions without the weight of the camera on my upper body. My Arthritis presents numerous challenges for me as my elbows, shoulder and neck are not able to support the weight of a Super Lens and the camera; my left shoulder will suddenly drop and my right side will lock up this eliminates those issues. The chest sling places the weight of the camera assembly on my front chest distributing it equally on my upper torso. Hopefully they will contribute to my quest to take the perfect photograph.
Jacque Lebec Natural Self Reliance