Bird of the Week – Red-tailed Hawk


Red-Tailed Hawk(Buteo jamaicensis)  This is the hawk that which all other others are compared.  The benchmark, so to speak.  It is one of the largest of the hawks, perhaps the largest.  You can often see it perched along the roadside,  on utility poles, trees, or other high points.  It hunts mostly mammals from these perches, and also from the air.  They are a beautiful bird in flight, their red tail glinting in the sun. 

This image was shot during a trip to Ballinger, Texas.  The hawk was in the grass along the roadside, apparently in the act of feeding on something.  As I slowed, he started to fly.  I was prepared with my Canon EOS 40D with a Canon 100-400mm zoome lens.  I was able to lock-on my auto-focus and pan with him as he flew, continually pressing the shutter.  ISO 400, 1/3200 sec. at f6.3.

Red-tailed Hawk

Sibley’s describes them as stocky, broad winged, with bulging secondaries.  The adult has the distinctive red tail, where the juvenile is much paler.  It sports a length of 19 inches, a wingspan an impressive four feet and one inch.  It weighs in at 2.4 lbs.  More information on these gorgeous birds can be found by clicking on the link at the beginning of this post.

This image was photographed with my Canon EOS 40D, hand-held with a Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure was 1/800 sec. at f6.3 with ISO of 400.

Red-tailed Hawk

I hope you enjoy this information about a majestic bird.  Click on either image for an enlargement.  In the future, my Bird of the Week posts will be on Thursdays, instead of previously mentioned Fridays.

Happy birding!!

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)


Raptors, and especially hawks, fascinate me.  They soar majestically in the skies and sometimes nearer to the ground in their hunt for prey.  I watch in awe as they alight in tree-tops or on the ground.

This photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk gives me mixed feelings.  It and another one have started nesting on Dan Brown’s ranch near Christoval.  I had photographed one of them earlier.  In it, he is majestically resting on a tree branch staring intently at me as I took his photo.  This image is the second one below, and a print of it is framed and hanging above Dan Brown’s mantel.

But I have a certain un-easiness with the first photograph.  Indeed I am proud of the image, as it shows the hawk contemplating his dinner.  But, ethically, I don’t really approve of the way I got the job done.  You see, it was “staged”.  Dan Brown wants the hawks to stay longer, so he has taken to feeding the hawks, by throwing meat out for it.  In this photo, one of Dan’s help threw the snack so I get this great photograph.

I usually abstain from doing this, as I would rather get my pictures by catching these wild creatures doing things naturally.  I wouldn’t take pictures of animals or birds in a zoo and use them for publication.  But in this case, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the bird.  Of course, this is a wild bird, at least for now.  I would hate to see it get too used to humans.

Contemplating Dinner

Red-shouldered Hawk

Enjoy the photos, and as usual, click on either image to see and enlargement.

Happy Birding!

Hawks, Hawks, Hawks!


To me  there is hardly anything more beautiful than a hawk soaring through the air, on the hunt for prey.  I love to photograph them on the wing whenever possible.  But I take what I can get.  For example the Zone-tailed Hawk pictured here was perched in the rain, getting soaking wet.  That was the first one I had ever seen and that, of course, is the only photograph that I have, and I was lucky to get it, as it flew away seconds after I took the shot.  The Zone-tailed Hawk is often mistaken for a vulture because of it’s slouching posture when perching and it’s similar flying habits.

wet Zone-tailed Hawk

I have something new for my blog posts now.  When I am discussing subjects, such as  birds, animals, flowers, etc., I can assign a link, if one is available, to them as in the paragraph above.  If you click on any of those links, they will take to you to more in-depth articles.  So today I am going to show you some of my hawk photographs. 

First up is a Red-shouldered Hawk that I photographed at the Hummer House near Christoval, Texas.  Dan Brown, the owner, had put some meat out for it, and after devouring it, the bird perched in the tree.

Red-shouldered Hawk

 The following is a Northern Harrier that I photographed at San Angelo StatePark.  It was doing it’s usual thing, of flying low over the mesquite and brush.  Again it didn’t come close enough to me to get a great picture, but the image that I did get shows the distinct white wide stripe on the lower back and tail.

Northern Harrier

The Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk are very similar in appearance except that the Coopers is about 5 inches taller.  Other than that, they both are long-tailed and short-winged, and are agile in maneuvering to catch their prey. These two photos were both taken at San Angelo State Park.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

One of the larger buteo hawks is the Swainson’s Hawk.  This one was perched on the cross-bar of a utility pole outside the entrance to San Angelo State Park.

Swainson's Hawk

The buteo to which all other hawks are compared is the Red-tailed Hawk.  Similar in size to the Swainson’s hawk but very conspicuous with the red tail.  This is one that I was lucky enough to catch in flight, and one of my personal favorites.

Red-tailed Hawk

I hope you have enjoyed todays photos.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.