A hawk launches out over the prairies. Photographed in late August last summer.
As farmers harvest their crops, hawks enjoy using the hay bales to scout for field mice. This rough-legged hawk stared at me from her perch for a moment before returning her attention to the field.
I found a Swainson’s hawk south of Cochrane last week. When the bird eventually pushed off from this tangle of branches I took a couple of photographs with the wings at full extension.
A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) launches over the fields near the town of Turner Valley in Alberta, Canada.
Driving with the kids along Lower Springbank Road, I was hoping there would be some hawks hunting along the freshly tilled fields out that way. On the second or third field my son spied a light morph Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) standing on a fence post.
We watched it make a few short flights over the soil before heading continuing on. Spring is a great time for driving, and photographing, on the prairies.
When this Red-tailed hawk launched off the post I had been watching him on for a few minutes, I was really impressed by the power and balance displayed. He flew closer and then went to the ground after circling back towards the fenceline. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an attacking dive only an uninspired landing in the tall grass.
Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) have the good sense to avoid winter on the prairies and they head south in late fall each year. It’s always exciting when they start to return and I have been seeing them more and more over the last couple of weeks. A little while ago, I found this one perched in a great, wild-looking tree along Highway 8, west of Calgary.
I could see the hawk was getting ready to fly so I watched from the ditch for a minute until it launched. There was a second hawk, presumably its mate, in a tight stand of trees so I figured that would be the direction it flew.
It landed beside its partner and when I drove past them I could see a nest buried in the far side of the trees. Photographs of the nest would not be in their best interest but I hope to see chicks fledge later in the spring.
This summer has been very good for hawk watchers on the prairies around Calgary. To the west around the Springbank area I have spent a number of afternoons watching mostly Swainson’s Hawks scouting over the fields.
This is a small set from a few of these encounters. I looking forward to a few more before fall comes and these fair-weather friends head south.
This hawk above was staring me down from her nest while I stopped briefly to see if her chick was looking out yet. On a separate visit, I saw the young one’s stare was equal to its mother’s.
Earlier in the summer, on the same day as my running fox encounter, I was watching a female hawk on this ranch entrance when its mate swooped down. When I saw the bird descending, as below, I thought it was attacking but it was getting closer for other reasons.
The hawk above had just finished a meal when I came by its perch on a fence near the airport. It preened for a while before launching for a higher viewing point. It stayed in the skeleton tree below before flying through the bare branches and gliding over the fields.
On one of the rainy mornings that I was out, this hawk flew alongside me for a few seconds which was really cool. When it crossed over to the driver’s side and banked back, I caught the nice image of the downstroke of his wings below.
I will be trading the opportunity to photograph these wonderful raptors for the wild residents of Prince Rupert’s coastal rainforest next week. I’m always excited about a return to the province I grew up in and especially when it is to visit a part of British Columbia that is new to me. We will see what opportunities present themselves starting tomorrow.