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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Jun 8, 2010

Swainson's Hawk

I know that I have mentioned on several occasions that Hawks in particular are a favorite bird of mine, so I will, and do, take any opportunity to observe these birds in the wild and take their pictures.  This weekend was one of those incredible times when I had the opportunity to do so.  The Swainson's Hawk featured here, is one who managed to surprised me by literally appearing out of nowhere not once, but twice.

The first time he was coming at me  from across a farmer's field behind a stand of trees on the other side of the pond I was visiting.  It looked like he had just taken off from the ground and he was flying incredibly fast.  I barely had a minute to raise my camera and take a few pictures before he rode the air up above the trees and disappeared.  The second time he simply appeared above the trees in front of me.  Fortunately, this time my reflexes sort of took over, which resulted in some incredibly good and close up photos.

Swainson's Hawk wings down

Swainson's Hawk wings spread

As you can see in the two pictures above the Swainsons Hawk appears to be black on the back.  He is actually a very dark brown, kind of like dark chocolate.  His belly and chest however, are a lighter grayish tan color, and the outer edge of the underside of his wings and tail are dark brown.  You can also clearly see that he has a lighter patch of feathers under his chin, which is then surrounded by reddish brown bib flowing down his neck. Keep in mind however, that there are light and dark color morphs within the species Swainson's  Hawk which may make them appear to be quite different.

Swainson's Hawk turning away
I was delighted to discover,  once I got these pictures onto the computer, that I actually managed to get a photo of this magnificent bird with prey held in one of his talons.  As this was one of the pictures taken when he caught me by surprise,  I didn't see him stoop for it, so he must have caught it on the other side of the little patch of forest near the pond.

Swainson's Hawk clutching prey
As you can see from the picture, at this point he is flying directly above me.  He was so close to me in fact, at one point, that I could literally see every detail of his markings, which is an experience I am unlikely to forget. It is experiences like this that I also like to share.  I hope you enjoy these photos.

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