Usually on Mondays my sister calls to chat, and as soon as she does, an interesting bird appears. I have gotten pretty good at pursuing the bird while we chat, phone in one hand and camera in the other. I can even zoom and pan one-handed!
Today it was this beautiful Red-tailed Hawk, accompanied by American Crows.
I often see crows around here, chasing owls and hawks, but because we live in a wooded area, I usually can’t get a good view, much less a good photo. Today everyone stayed out in the open and let me approach pretty close. I always think of Red-tails as being very large, so I was surprised to see that this one wasn’t much larger than the crows. I guess it was a male, because they are smaller than females.
Eventually the hawk flew across the pasture and over to the neighbor’s woods. The pictures I got of that were blurry, but I loved the shapes of the birds in flight.
My favorite books for helping with hawk identification are Stokes Field Guide to the Birds, because it shows the different hawks in the same position, so it’s easier to pick up on the differences between species, and Hawks in Flight by Pete Dunne, David Sibley, and Clay Sutton, because it gives so many tips as to appearance and behavior differences. I have the first edition from 1988, which is great but it has only black and white drawings and photos. I just learned a second edition came out in 2012, and it covers more raptors and has color pictures too! Another item for my book wish list!