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The other day I posted some images of a Mississippi Kite, a raptor that lives in only a couple of locations in southern Arizona and in very small numbers. Here’s an image of another uncommon raptor, a Gray Hawk.
Gray Hawks are common throughout much of Mexico and Central America. They are extremely uncommon in the United States with a range that includes only the southern tip of Texas and a very small area in southeastern Arizona. There are, perhaps, a couple of hundred nesting pairs of these small buteos living in Arizona.
They are strikingly beautiful with their slate gray plumage and dark eyes. Gray Hawks are predominately a riparian species. In this country they dwell almost exclusively near the banks of streams and they prefer to nest in cottonwood and sycamore trees. They specialize in hunting lizards.
One often hears these birds without seeing them, due to their habit of roosting deep within trees’ canopies. They have a one-note, very high pitched call that sounds almost like an extended whistle. They can be frustrating to search for because they can remain invisible for quite a while while calling. I’ve had the experience more than once of standing right underneath a tree on which a Gray Hawk was perching and calling without ever being able to spot the bird.
I photographed this bird near the banks of the San Pedro River in Cochise County, about 45 miles southeast of Tucson. Several weeks ago I posted a photo of young Gray Hawk transitioning from juvenile to adult plumage. This may be the same bird, now wearing adult plumage. At any rate, I took my photographs in virtually the same location.
Image made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 800, f8 @ 1/800.