With spring sprung, there are an abundance of hawks wheeling in the sky over the Prairies now. Through the winter, the Rough-legged hawks had the air to themselves and now Red-tailed, Swainson’s and Broad-wings have joined them. This dark morph Swainson’s was beautiful and wheeled around me for a couple of turns.
This Red-tailed hawk screamed at me when I stopped to photograph it flying over the fields. It flew beside me and let loose one of the shrieks that Hollywood still often uses to dub over the Bald Eagle’s less impressive one.
Another Swainson’s launched out of this tree and looked beautiful in the warm, evening light.
One other Red-tailed watched me out of the corner of its eye as it glided past but saved any vocalizations for another time. This hawk was one of the few I saw that wasn’t flying. I did not see a nest nearby so I think the bird was just taking a break from hunting.
Through the winter, Rough-legged Hawks, as with the adult above and the juvenile below, keep watch over the Prairies. These hawks are equipped for the cold temperatures and many choose to skip the migration and over winter here. As the weather warms, their cousins, the Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s and Broad-winged Hawks are starting to return.
One of the great joys of spring for me is the return of these hawks to the fields and grasslands. However with a few great encounters with the Rough-legged hawks shown here, I’m not in any particular rush.
The robins have been coming home for the last couple of weeks and a flight of about thirty Dark-eyed Juncos swarmed our backyard a couple of days ago. So, spring seems close at hand. I’m looking forward to more time with all the different hawks that spend their summers raising chicks here.
… And that is a great thing. Everywhere may be an exaggeration but if you drive along the range roads west of Calgary or hike along the edges of the fields around the Springbank and Bragg Creek areas, you are very likely to spy one of these beautiful birds perched on a treetop or telephone pole. If you are lucky, or have the time to wait, you can see them gliding over grassy areas searching for the small creatures that they prefer to dine on. In my wildlife searches this winter, I have enjoyed seeing many of these hawks.
Above and below a Rough-legged is on the hunt in West Bragg Creek.
(please click on any image if you want to open a new page with a higher resolution version)
Below, a couple of hawks working the fields around the Springbank Airport came close enough and stayed around long enough for me to photograph.