Harris’ Hawks — Meet The Kids

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I’ve visited our relatively local Harris’ Hawks family a few times over the past week. Their base of operations is a very large pine tree located on a residential property.  The tree houses a nest that the hawks have built into a fairly massive structure over the years.  This year the matriarch, whose images I featured recently, gave birth to three chicks.  The chicks are now fully fledged and appear to have left their nest tree within the past day or so.

I was able to get some photos of them before they left.

When two of the three siblings perched side by side  one of them appeared to be much larger than the other.  That’s a bit of an illusion, the bird on the left was on a slightly higher perch than the bird on the right.  That said, size disparities among Harris’ Hawks are common, with the females always being larger than the males.  It is certainly possible that this pair is a sister-brother combination.  The mottled plumage on the birds’ breasts and abdomens is typical of fledgling Harris’ Hawks.  That plumage will disappear over the next year or two as the birds mature, to be replaced by the classic Harris’ Hawk deep brown and russet plumage.

On a subsequent visit I found one of the young hawks perched on a low branch at least 50 feet beneath the nest.  The bird was perfectly capable of flying, albeit somewhat awkwardly.  I watched it as it examined one of its feet, almost as if it was saying to itself:  “I wonder what this thing is useful for?”

After a few moment’s observation I watched the young hawk take a short flight of a few yards. I had the opportunity to photograph it with its wings outstretched, just before it took off.  Again, this photograph depicts typical juvenile Harris’ Hawk plumage.  The bird’s underwings will darken as it matures.

Young Harris’ Hawks are very clumsy fliers, as are most birds just out of the nest.  However, it won’t take long for these youngsters to master their flying skills.  Young birds learn the techniques of flight quickly.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting.  First image, ISO 400, f6.3 @ 1/640.  Second image, ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/1000.  Third image, ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/800.

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