Sturm Und Drang
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I’m a big fan of Romantic art, literature, and music and tonight’s photo reminds me of that. And, of the pre-Romantic German cultural movement that emphasized emotion and nature. Well, whatever, this bird certainly is evocative of all things Romantic in my mind.
The bird is a young Red-tailed Hawk, a juvenile, that I photographed yesterday, just as it lifted off from its perch. For those of you who’ve never observed these birds closely, watching them flying at close range is an impressive sight. They are quite large as birds go, weighing about three pounds. By comparison, a typical songbird such as a robin or a cardinal weighs only a few ounces. Getting that much mass into the air requires tremendous strength and coordination. The hawk accomplishes that with a combination of leaping ability and powerful wings. On takeoff, one will often leap skyward while pumping those huge wings energetically, in order to get enough lift to avoid stalling out and falling. Once airborne, the hawk will search for a warm air current — a thermal — and use the surface area of those wings and its broad tail to ride upward, like a glider or a kite.
You may notice that many of the in-flight photos of birds of prey that I post here are of young birds. There’s a reason for that. The youngsters tend to be less cautious than their elders in the presence of humans. Whether it’s out of naiveté or curiosity, I’m not certain, but they often hang around longer before flying than do adult birds when people approach them. Which works out just fine if you’re taking pictures of them.
Photo taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400DO, ISO 400, “M” setting, f6.3 @ 1/1600.