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I probably encounter as many Red-tailed Hawks during a year of driving around looking for subjects to photograph as all other species of raptor, combined. I rarely photograph these birds because the vast majority of them are perched on utility poles when I see them. The poles are generally ugly and boring perches. So, nothing against the hawks, but their choice of favorite perches usually rules them out as subjects.
Every once in a while I encounter a Red Tail on a natural perch. I will eagerly photograph one of these hawks on that occasion because Red-tailed Hawks are beautiful and highly interesting subjects when the setting is right.
Recently, I ran across this young Red Tail perching on a dead mesquite. A beautiful bird on a photogenic perch in excellent light, who could ask for more?
This bird’s relatively pale eye, the absence of a red tail, and its bright plumage are the hallmarks of a young bird, almost certainly less than a year old.
Young Red Tails tend to be easier to photograph than the adult birds. Adult birds are often quite skittish around humans. By contrast, the youngsters, likely because they are naive, tend to hang around on their perches while being photographed.
This bird stayed on its perch for a while, then eventually lifted off and I captured an image just as it was leaving.
In my book this hawk made up for all of those Red-tailed Hawks that I bypassed because they were sitting on those boring utility poles.
Images made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 500, f5.6 @ 1/3200, +2/3 stop exposure compensation.