Roadside Raptor: Red-tailed Hawk I

I was looking through my photos the other day, pretty much at random, and I realized something. I have a lot of raptor photos that I’ve gotten when we’ve spotted the bird along the road and turned back to shoot him. These are mostly Red-tails and Bald Eagles, but I have some others: American Kestrel, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk and both Black and Turkey Vultures. There are probably more, but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

Anyway, I’m unlikely to post those photos because they are random, generally with no real story to tell. So I’ve decided to create the “Roadside Raptor” theme to give myself a reason to post them. That gives me quite a few very easy post possibilities and with my tendency to stop posting and disappear for long periods, easy posts are not something to be passed up lightly.

We’ll start with the most recent, just because. We were on our way home, not long after seeing the Mississippi Kites in the last post. Dayna was driving, heading into the sun sitting low in the sky, somewhere between Sikeston and Poplar Bluff. I think we were east of Dexter, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Doesn’t really matter.

Dayna spotted what she thought was an owl in a dead tree on the other side of the east-bound lane of traffic. We quickly found a place to turn around and returned to find the bird was still there, not something you can count on, though it was a Red-tailed Hawk instead of an owl. Very uncharacteristically for a Red-tail, he did not fly as soon as we pulled off the road. They’re usually gone as soon as the vehicle starts to slow down. But this one stayed put, the light was decent for a change and I got off a string of photos before he finally did get antsy and fly.

I kept on him as he flew, but as Red-tails are wont to do, he dropped off the back side of the tree, flying away from us and not giving me a decent shot. Unfortunately for the hawk, but happily for us, he quickly flew into a Red-winged Blackbird’s territory and was instantly attacked, forcing him to turn back in our direction. He ended up right back on the same snag from which he’d left.

I got off another short string of shots and he was off again, this time flying across in front of us.

I barely kept him in the frame for the first shot, the next two were out of focus, and I nailed him for one last shot before he crossed the highway and was gone.

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