Gray Hawk Among Cottonwoods

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Today I’m featuring an image of a Gray Hawk, a bird that is relatively common in parts of Mexico and Central America, but that shows up in the United States only in the southeastern corner of Arizona, the southern tip of Texas, and in a tiny part of New Mexico. It is uncommon even within these areas.

I photographed this individual in its preferred habitat, perching high up in a Cottonwood along the banks of one of southern Arizona’s rare free-flowing streams.

Gray Hawks are compactly built little buteos. One of these birds weighs just about a pound (around 1/2 kilogram). It has short wings and a relatively long tail. These are adaptations that make this hawk quite maneuverable, and facilitate its flying in and among relatively dense trees.

Gray Hawks are migratory in southern Arizona. They show up here in early spring and hang around until autumn, long enough to reproduce and to raise their young.

I make it a point to go looking for these hawks once or twice a year. Usually, I locate a Gray Hawk by sound well before I see it. A Gray Hawk has a high-pitched, quite musical and loud call. When I hear one of these birds calling it then becomes a matter of staring in the direction of the sound in hopes of picking out a shape among the foliage. I’ve gone blind on more than one occasion staring at dense vegetation, knowing that a hawk is in there somewhere, but unable to locate it.

I’m certain that I’ve come home empty handed on at least 50% of my searches for Gray Hawks. Seeking them out is well worth it, however, because these little hawks are so unique and also because they are quite beautiful.

Image made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 4000, f6.3 @ 1/3200, +1 stop exposure compensation.

2 Replies to “Gray Hawk Among Cottonwoods”

  1. burrdoo says:

    Superb shot of a very elusive raptor!

  2. picpholio says:

    This time you had good luck Steven 🙂

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