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.
Driving up to Jasper on Friday, Jeff and I detoured through the Bow Valley Parkway to see what wildlife might be in the meadows or along the river. We saw very little on the ground, one skittish elk and that was about it. However, a little higher up, we spotted two separate Rough-legged hawks. They were at opposite ends of the parkway, this one was in the skeleton forest in the Sawback prescribed burn area. Jeff did well to spy this raptor where it was huddled on a branch a hundred yards off of the road. With a long lens, I was able to pull it in and when it decided to fly I had a couple of seconds to make a couple of nice images.
The snow was falling pretty softly, a remnant of the storm that ushered winter into the park over the past week. With the monochromatic background, the caramel and brown patterns in the hawk’s feathers looked particularly nice to my eye.