Red-Tailed Hawk’s Takeoff

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I’ve posted more than once that I’m about satiated with perching Red-tailed Hawks unless the background is attractive or the birds are doing something interesting.  That said, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to get an action photo of one of these magnificent birds.

The other day, Ned Harris and I were driving through agricultural country when we spotted a Red Tail buried among the branches of a small mesquite.  The bird was mostly obscured by vegetation and our first reaction was to bypass it and continue onward to search for more promising opportunities.  However, I decided to at least look at the bird through my camera’s viewfinder.  Just as I did the hawk launched and I reflexively hit the shutter, getting this image.


A lucky shot, although as I often say, it’s frequently better to be lucky than good.

You’ll notice that this bird seems to be missing a feather here and there and that other feathers, particularly its wing primaries, have a moth-eaten look to them.  Hawks get that way when they’re close to molting.  Feathers are made out of dead tissue, like our fingernails and hair, and they erode and wear away with use.  Birds, including hawks, need to regrow their feathers a couple of times a year and this bird may be just a short time away from doing so.

Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 500, f8 @ 1/1600.

One response to “Red-Tailed Hawk’s Takeoff”

  1. Tom Munson says :

    Nice work, Steve. Beautiful bird.

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