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Yesterday, I took advantage of the Veterans’ Day holiday and went hawk hunting with my friend, Sam Angevine. This is the time of year when Red-tailed Hawks migrate in great numbers from all over the western United States to wintering grounds in the valleys of southern Arizona. Sam and I spent several hours driving around on rural roads and we found hawks in abundance.
One of the really interesting things about these birds is that they not only migrate, but they often take up residence at the exact location that they’ve occupied in previous years. A particular hawk has a favorite tree or utility pole and it will reoccupy that location after months of absence.
One of the hawks that we encountered yesterday is a Red Tail who we’ve nicknamed “Squint.” Squint gets that name because it appears to have an old and minor injury to its left eye that causes it to keep it half-closed much of the time. It has a favorite tree, a dead cottonwood, that it shares with another hawk. This view of Squint, below, shows its “good” eye.
Yesterday, Squint put on a spectacular display for us of takeoffs and landings from its tree. The bird really wasn’t anxious to vacate its territory, and so, it hung around notwithstanding us standing nearby and photographing it. Normally, when hawks take off in the presence of a photographer, they fly away, frequently in the opposite direction from the photographer. Not so, with Squint, the hawk took off flying directly at me, giving me a few really great opportunities to photograph the bird in flight.
So, let’s give Squint a hand! It may not be the most colorful of Red Tails, but it makes up for that by being one of the most cooperative birds I’ve photographed.
Photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, “M” setting, f6.3 @ 1/1600.