Ferruginous Hawk — Farewell to Winter

You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a detailed view.

Winter isn’t technically over in southern Arizona but, in reality, spring has arrived.  Many plants are putting out new growth and/or blooming.  Wildlife is becoming increasingly active.  Migratory species that spend the winter here are gone or are leaving even as other species are moving in for the warm months.

Ferruginous Hawks are among the species that have headed for the exit.  I saw none of these big buteos today on my customary drive through the farmlands.  I thought I’d commemorate their departure with one last set of images, images that I made just a week ago.

I’ve posted on many occasions about Ferruginous Hawks.  They are the largest hawk in North America, at least 1/3 larger than Red-tailed Hawks and their distinctive plumage plus their size render them absolutely magnificent.  Words cannot describe how spectacularly beautiful are these hawks.

Indeed, images barely do the job.  Seeing one of these birds in person can be a breathtaking experience.

Ferruginous Hawks used to reside year round in southern Arizona, back in the era when Black-tailed Prairie Dogs built their towns and lived by the hundreds of thousands on our grasslands and plains.  Ranchers long ago exterminated the prairie dogs and that deprived the hawks of the food that they needed to raise their offspring.  So, the year-round residents abandoned us.  Ferruginous Hawks still breed on our northern plains, but not here.

I particularly like this final image of the hawk.  Ferruginous Hawks, despite their massive size, are very timid and avoid contact with humans.  I’d noticed that the many images that I’d made of these birds over the years almost never showed one of them staring directly at me.  Evidently, these birds do not want to make eye contact with observers.  So, I was surprised and delighted to discover that, of the series of images that I made of this bird, one of them showed it staring right through my lens.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 1250, f5.6 @ 1/1600.

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