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Posts Tagged ‘Red-Shouldered Hawk’

The crows were making a racket yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and I wondered if they were harassing a raptor. Even though they are a lot smaller than most hawks, eagles, and owls, crows are fearless in their efforts to force the much larger birds to leave their area.

As I walked down the trail scanning the trees, I spotted the bright underside and tail of a large bird that looked to be hiding. Rather than perching upright, the bird seemed to be perching horizontally. I approached as stealthily as I could and eventually managed to get almost directly underneath the the bird, which I believe is a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). The hawk looked straight down at me with a look of mild disapproval. I managed to capture this image in the seconds before the beautiful bird reluctantly took off.

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Tuesday I could hear a pair of screaming hawks overhead at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge and eventually I saw one of them land on a broken-off tree. As I focused on that hawk, which I think is a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), the other hawk zoomed into the frame and continued the fight.

In the first image, the perched hawk appeared to sense the approach of the “enemy” and was preparing itself for battle. I didn’t realize that the other hawk was approaching I saw it through the viewfinder of my camera as you can see in the second shot. At that moment, the stationary hawk was preparing to take off. In the final shot, the flying hawk had closed the gap and the two raptors were engaged in what looked to be a fierce struggle.

Why were they fighting? My guess is that it was some kind of territorial dispute, but there is no way for me to be sure. When I first saw the two hawks chasing each other, I thought it might be love, but the final frame suggests that was not the reason.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

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Yesterday morning I was excited to spot this handsome Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) perched rather low in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Rather than flying away immediately, as is usually the case, the hawk remained in place long enough for me to maneuver around to a good position to capture its portrait.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was walking along one of the trails last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I glanced to the side and spotted this Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) perched at eye level on a tree that was really close. There was a lot of vegetation between us, but I managed to get this shot that did not have to be cropped at all.

Initially I did not think that I would be able to capture a usable image, because there was no way that I could get an unobstructed shot. I crouched down a bit and managed to find a kind of visual tunnel that provided a clear view of the head. The out-of-focus branches are a little distracting, but they provide the viewer with a sense that they are peering into the world of the hidden hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) was so puffed up early last Saturday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge trying to stay warm that I couldn’t even see its feet—it was about 18 degrees (minus 8 degrees C) when I captured the image. The hawk seemed to be hunched over a bit and it looks like some of its lower feathers were draped over its feet.

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I didn’t have to go far to find this Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)—I spotted it while walking a friend’s Cocker Spaniel in my suburban townhouse neighborhood. I rushed home to get my camera and was thrilled when I returned to find that the hawk was still perched on a broken-off tree in a small marshy area.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have already featured a frontal image of this young Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) that I spotted last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but I decided I also really like this shot in which it is looking over its shoulder.  The hawk definitely was keeping an eye on me after I had passed almost directly underneath it and was walking further down the path away from it.

In a strange way the hawk seemed to be simultaneously intensely focused and quite relaxed and was quite content to remain on its perch.

Red-shouldered Hawk

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This young Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) stared down at me with curiosity and interest yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and stayed in place even when I passed almost directly beneath it. In my experience, younger birds are more likely than adults to hang around as I approach. As they grow older, I suspect, they rightly come to view humans as potential predators.

Red-shouldered Hawk

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One of the basic rules of portrait photography is that you should try to be at eye level with your subject. That’s a bit tough to do with raptors, but this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I encountered a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) that was perched very low on a tree and I managed to capture a number of shots of it. The wind was blowing strongly at the time and my guess is that the hawk was trying to shelter itself from the wind by perching low and from the cold by fluffing up its feathers (as you can see in the the second image).

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

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A group of five or so photographers stood on the boardwalk on Friday morning at Huntley Meadows Park watching a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) in a tree above us. We waited and waited for the hawk to take off and when it finally did so, I almost managed to keep the hawk within the frame. I can’t really complain too much, though, because as far as I know, none of the others managed to get a shot off when the hawk took to the air.

We were in a really good position and the lighting was beautiful, but it is hard to remain alert and ready as you wait for a bird to spring into action. I was using a monopod again and I think it may be the reason why I was able to capture the hawk taking off. My camera was already at eye level and pointed in the direction of the hawk during the entire fifteen minutes or so that we watched the hawk. The other photographers had to raise their cameras and were not able to do so quickly enough.

It might be my imagination, but I also think that some of my shots with the monopod are sharper than they might otherwise be. I have balked a bit at carrying a big tripod, but think that the monopod will now be with me most of the time—it collapses to a pretty small size and, because it it carbon fiber, is both sturdy and light.
Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

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High in the trees on a bleak, overcast day, this Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) was keeping watch over Huntley Meadows Park last Friday. As I was getting ready to post this image, I realized that I photographed a hawk on exactly the same perch a little over a month earlier. I decided to reprise  that earlier photo to show you how much the foliage has changed. I suspect, however) that it is not the same hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

 

Res-shouldered Hawk

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When I was walking yesterday along Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, I was shocked to spot a hawk perched nearby in a small tree almost at eye level. I was on a paved bike trail that parallels the stream and there is a relatively steep embankment that slopes down to the water’s edge. The tree was located on that embankment.

When the hawk, which I think is a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) eventually flew away and landed atop a building, it screamed out repeatedly at some circling crows. It makes me wonder if the hawk had previously been hiding from harassing crows and that is why it permitted me to get relatively close without initially taking off.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

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I have been hearing the cries of Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) frequently at my local marshland park, but I have had a lot of trouble spotting them. At this time in the autumn there are still lots of leaves on the trees that obscure my view. Gradually some of the leaves are starting to change colors and fall from the trees, but that process takes place a bit later here in Northern Virginia than in more northern areas of the United States.

As I was walking along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park on Saturday morning, I saw a brightly colored object at the top of a tree. Looking through my telephoto lens, I was thrilled to see that it was a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk that was out on a limb, giving me an almost unobstructed line of sight for a shot. In most of my shots, the hawk was looking away, but I was thrilled to be able to get a few shots in which one of the hawk’s eyes is visible. The bright blue sky and the red leaves surrounding the hawk were a nice bonus.

Res-shouldered Hawk

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“How can you just leave me standing? Alone in a world that’s so cold?…Why do we scream at each other? This is what it sounds like when hawks cry.” (Apologies to Prince for changing the words of the song “When Doves Cry.”)

On a gray, gloomy day at Huntley Meadows Park,  hawks were crying out all afternoon. One hawk would start to scream and its call would be echoed back from somewhere in the distance. Sometimes I would hear a cry from the cloud-covered sky, but I never got a glimpse of the passing hawks.

I was fortunate to be in the right place when one hawk started crying. From the cry, I knew that the hawk was nearby, but I had trouble locating it as I scanned the trees. Finally I spotted it, a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). I snapped off a couple of images and then started to adjust the camera’s settings. I had barely taken the camera from my eye when the hawk took off.

The moment was gone and for a short period of time the marsh was silent.

Red-shouldered Hawk

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On Monday I spent a good amount of time watching this hawk in a distant tree at Huntley Meadows Park (and, alas, missed the shot when it flew away). There is something simultaneously beautiful and fierce about hawks and eagles that never fails to attract me. Clouds covered the sky for the entire day and there just wasn’t a whole lot of light to work with. That’s why this image has an almost monochromatic look, which makes the yellow color of the talons and the eye stand out even more prominently.
I think this is a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo  lineatus), but would welcome a correction to my identification.
Update: A Facebook friend, who is a much more experience birder than I am, has suggested that this may be a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), while others say it is probably a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii ). Again I am proving to be identification-challenged.
Red-shouldered Hawk

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I got excited yesterday morning when I spotted a hawk perched high in a tree at my favorite marshland park. The light was coming from a good direction and I was able to identify it as a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus).

Frequently the hawks I see will sit in the same position for a long, long time, but this one kept changing positions. Maybe the branch was not comfortable or maybe the wind was bothersome. Whatever the case, I was able to have a miniature portrait session with the hawk as I tried to capture its best side.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

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Why was the juvenile hawk perched on the ground? When I first caught sight of the flapping wings in the shadows beneath the trees, I assumed that the hawk had just captured a prey. However, there was no prey to be seen and the hawk just said there for what seemed to be a few minutes, looking from side to side.

juvenile hawk

juvenile hawk

juvenile hawk

I tried to be as stealthy as I could as I moved forward a little, but the hawk apparently sensed my presence and took to the air. I was surprised that it simply flew to a nearby tree and perched there. The light was a little better and I could see the hawk more clearly than when it was on the ground. There were, however, a lot of little branches, so it was not possible to get a completely unobstructed shot.

juvenile hawk

After a little while, the hawk flew to a more distant tree and I lost sight of it. I moved slowly in the direction that it had flown, scanning the trees. I finally spotted the hawk when I was almost directly below it. I got this shot of the hawk staring down at me before it flew off one final time. I guess the hawk decided that the portrait session was over.

juvenile hawk

I think that this might be a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), but I am not at all certain about my identification. Adult hawks challenge my identification skills and juveniles frustrate me even more.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Wouldn’t it to be great to be able to soar high in the sky like a hawk, liberated from the cares of our daily lives? Of course, hawks have their own share of problems, like the pesky crows and blackbirds that mercilessly harass them.

I think the hawk in the photos is a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), the same one, in fact, that I featured making a hasty landing in a tree. There were several small birds chasing after the hawk, though I was only able to capture one close to the hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The hawk was moving really fast when it apparently spotted a perch that it liked. In an amazingly short distance, the hawk was able to slow down and really stuck the landing.  If I were a judge, though, I would have to deduct some points for the break in his form as he slowed down—it certainly did not look very elegant.

For most of these shots of the hawk, which I think is a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), I was shooting at a higher ISO than I prefer in order to keep the shutter speed high. The results are a little grainy, particularly because I had to a fairly substantial crop, given that I was shooting across a small pond and the tree on which the hawk was perched was pretty far away. In the final shot, when the hawk was stationary, I was able to lower the ISO and there is a bit more fine detail.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Full speed ahead

Red-shouldered Hawk

Trying to slow down

Red-shouldered Hawk

Sticking the landing I

Red-shouldered Hawk

Sticking the landing II

Red-shouldered Hawk

Adjusting the position

Red-shouldered Hawk

Surveying the area

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The loud screams of a hawk rang out for extended periods of time during one of my trips to Huntley Meadows Park this past weekend. I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a single hawk or more than one, but the screams seemed to be those of a  Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). (You can hear the distinctive sound of this hawk by following this link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)

The calls seemed to be coming from deep in the woods, but eventually a hawk flew overhead. The light was good enough that I was able to capture a pretty good amount of the beautiful details of this impressive-looking raptor, including the one feather at the tip of the wings that seems a bit frayed.

I think this is a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, perhaps the one that was making the calls that I had heard a bit earlier. As always, I welcome any corrections in my identification from more experienced birders.

UPDATE: One of my Facebook readers weighed in and noted that this is a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

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I felt like a goalie in a penalty shot situation, waiting for my opponent to act. Would he go to the right or to the left, go high or go low? Could I react quickly enough to capture the shot? Time seemed to stand still as I waited and watched.

In this case, my “opponent” was a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) perched in a tree at my local marshland park. Once I spotted the hawk, I slowly moved as close as I could get, walking quietly on the boardwalk. The hawk was facing in the opposite direction, so my initial shots showed the details of the back of its head. Scanning the area, the hawk periodically looked to the sides and I managed to get some profile shots, the second and third shots below.

Finally, the hawk took off, diving quickly to my left. I reacted and managed to get a few shots of the hawk in mid-air.  Although my  trigger finger reacted well, I didn’t move the lens fast enough and failed to keep the hawk centered in the frame. I barely managed to capture the entire body of the hawk in the photo below and the composition of the shot is less than optimal. However, I like the overall feel of the image and the fact that you can see details like the underside of the tail feathers and the talons.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

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Where’s Waldo? As I was observing a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) in the early morning, it took off and I captured this first image, in which you can just barely make out the hawk’s face and body amid all the branches.

In the second image, the sunlight hit one of the hawk’s wings just right and illuminated it against the backdrop of the tangled branches, making the hawk a bit easier to pick out.

UPDATE: Several readers have noted that this is almost certainly a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), not a Red-shouldered Hawk—I still have lots of work to do on improving my identification skills.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

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Now that the leaves have fallen from the trees, I have a much greater chance of reaching one of my goals for this winter of capturing some better shots of hawks.

One of the biggest challenges at my local marshland park is that most of the trees on which hawks seem to like to perch are inaccessible—the trees are surrounded by flooded swamps on one side and dense vegetation on the other.

This past week I took my best hawk shots in quite some time when a fellow photographer pointed out this Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) on the limb of a distant tree. We were able to move a little closer to the hawk, because it was facing away from us, but when the water started to get ankle-deep, I had to make do with the conditions I had.

I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for the sights and sounds of these magnificent birds and hope to get a bit closer to one in the coming months.

Red-shouldered HawkRed-shouldered Hawk

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This past Friday morning, as I was following one of the creeks at Huntley Meadows Park, I caught sight of a large bird perched on the trunk of a fallen tree almost right in front of me. I had a 180mm macro lens on my camera, which proved just enough for me to almost fill the frame with images of the bird.

After consultations with the naturalist staff, I believe this to be an adolescent Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). Note that the young hawk has a band on one of its legs, which was put on it at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.

The hawk looks pretty bedraggled and the naturalists hypothesized that perhaps it had been harassed by some other birds and was recovering on the ground. The hawk was aware of my presence and looked in my direction a couple of times, but I stayed at a distance, fearful of disturbing it in a potentially vulnerable moment. Although I would have liked to have moved in closer for some shots, I moved away quietly after capturing some images, leaving the young bird in this position on the log as I departed.

Red-shouldered Hawk

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When I spotted a fairly large bird soaring in the sky, I stopped talking in mid-sentence and pointed my camera to the sky. My fellow conversationalist might have thought it was rude (she is not a photographer), but I am always trying to capture images of birds in flight and will start shooting long before I have identified a bird.

This bird looks to be a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), though I am not certain about the identification and the hawk did not cry out at all, so I have only visual clues to go by. At first I thought it was just soaring for fun, but the intensity of the hawk’s eyes, especially in the second shot, suggest that it was paying attention to what was happening on the ground.

I was pretty fortunate when the hawk turned toward the light with its wings extended, providing a good look at the beautiful feathers of its wings and body. I am hoping that I will be getting better shots of hawks as we progress into winter, though, as with most wildlife subject, there are no guarantees.

hawk1_soaring_bloghawk2_soaring_blog

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Now that most of the leaves are gone from the trees, one of the Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) seems to have returned to a favorite perch at my local marsh. The good news is that I know where the perch is, but the bad news is that there is a large field of cattails in mud and water between my best observation spot and the tall tree in which the hawk is perched.

The branch is parallel to the ground and seems to provide the hawk a comfortable observation post from which to survey the surroundings and look for prey. Apparently it is so comfortable that the hawk can stay in that one spot for a long period of time. I had my camera on a tripod for the first shot and I waited and waited for the hawk to fly.

A fellow Canon photographer came by and we started taking about menu settings and I took the camera off the tripod in order to check the menus. As I was thumbing through the menus, my friend suddenly blurted out that my hawk had taken off. I turned back in the direction of the hawk and was able to snap off a couple of quick shots of the hawk in flight.

The shots highlight some of the beautiful colors and patterns of the hawk’s wings and so I have chosen to include them in this posting. As one of my fellow bloggers Lyle Krahn has noted, any day that you see a hawk is a good day. Be sure to check out his blog for some awesome shots of hawks (and lots of other wildlife), including this recent posting, in which you are asked to make a difficult choice between two hawk photos for an imaginary calendar.

hawk_flying3_bloghawk_flying_bloghawk_flying2_blog

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Yesterday as I was walking on Roosevelt Island, a National Park in the Potomac River,  I heard a hawk screaming loudly and realized it was pretty close to where it was.

I walked slowly and quietly toward the source of the sound and spotted this hawk almost directly above me in the trees. There were a lot of branches in the way and I had to search to find a visual tunnel to try to get an unobstructed shot of the hawk. The angle was a steep one and gave me a view of the underside of a hawk that I had never had before. In fact, I think that you can see the roof of his open mouth in the first shot.

hawk_screaming1_blog

The hawk stopped screaming for a little while and I got a shot of him with his mouth closed. It may just be the distortion caused by the steep view angle, but it seems to me that he has an awfully small beak.

hawk_screaming2_blog

I am having a little trouble identifying this hawk. At first I thought it might be a Red-Shouldered Hawk, but now I am not certain, because it doesn’t quite match any of the photos that I see on-line.  I’d appreciate any help from more experienced bird watchers in figuring out which species I photographed.

After a too short period on this branch, the bird flew off this perch and disappeared from view. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for hawks and hopefully it will be easier to spot them when the leaves fall off of the trees.

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I have not seen any hawks at my local marsh for quite some time, so yesterday I was really happy when I heard the unmistakable sound of screaming Red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus). (Check out the sound file on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website if you have never heard the cry of these magnificent birds.)

From the sound of the loud screaming, I could tell that the hawks were not far away and eventually I spotted two of them soaring above the trees. After a few minutes, one of them flew silently into view and landed in a tree across the beaver pond from where I was standing. I suspected that he would not remain very long, so I decided to try to get some shots with the lens that I happened to have on my camera at the time, my Tamron 180mm macro lens, rather than take the time to set up my tripod and change to a longer lens.

Before long, I heard the cries of the other hawk and the one that I was watching took to the air and joined in the screaming. I was a little surprise to see that it flew laterally and downward, but I was able to track it pretty well and got the in-flight shot that you see below.

I was pleased to see that the lens was able to capture a pretty good amount of contrast and detail, even in heavily-cropped images like the two that I am posting. I enjoy the challenge of attempting to capture any birds in flight and look forward to more attempts as we move out of insect season, when my macro lens is use most of the time, into bird season, when I switch to a telephoto lens.

screaming3_blogscreaming2_blog

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I’m starting to see hawks—primarily Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) with some regularity, but really good shots of these powerful birds have proven to be elusive so far.

I am happy that I am beginning to capture images of the hawks while they are flying, but virtually all of the time they are flying away from me and not toward me, so the hawks do not fill up much of the frame.

Perhaps when the weather is warmer, there will be more prey for the hawks, thereby giving me more chances to get good shots. At a minimum, I’ll have more hours of daylight in which to make my attempts.

hawk2_bloghawk1_blog

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Why do some hawks fan their tails out when they are soaring and others don’t?

On an overcast day earlier this week, I was watching two hawks soaring through the air together, when I happened to notice that one of them kept his tail fanned out all of the time. His tail was so noticeably striped that I am pretty sure that he is a Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus).  The other hawk, however, never fanned out his tail. Looking at the wings of the two hawks, I think they are probably the same kind, although one of them looks to have a somewhat longer body.

So I am left wondering why, under the same  conditions, they each chose to us their tails differently.

doublehawk1_blogdoublehawk2_blog

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It was cold (about 24 degrees F or minus 4.4 C) this morning and the sky was completely covered with clouds as we awaited the coming snowstorm. Nonetheless, I went out with my camera to my marshland park to see what animals and birds were active.

Previously I had identified a tree where a hawk is frequently present and one was there today. The perch is pretty high up and there is a field of cattails between the boardwalk and the tree, so I can’t get very close to the hawk. As I stood watching the hawk, he suddenly flew almost straight down into the field and returned to a different tree after what had obviously been a successful hunt. I attempted to photograph the action, but my camera was not adjusted properly for the reduced light in the field and my photos were blurry and out of focus.

All was not lost, however, because a short time later a hawk came flying from the same area and I was able to get some photos of him. When I looked at the photos on my computer, I discovered that the hawk, which I am pretty sure is a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), is carrying  a rodent in his talons.

I am not sure why he chose to transport his prey to another location, but it provided me a really cool photo opportunity.

prey5_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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