Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk; Autumn Bird of Prey Migration

September 13, 2011  •  Leave a Comment
Juvenile Female Red-tailed Hawk
Juvenile Female Red-tailed Hawk

Lately if you look up in the South Western Montreal Sky you can observe Birds of Prey in larger numbers than usual. It`s time for the Autumn Migration and although Montreal is not in a migration corridor we`re seeing Birds of Prey in large numbers this year. In just a few days this past weekend we spotted over a dozen individuals high above in the sky, migrating, or low and hunting. One lucky occurrence was this Large, yet beautiful Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. We were approaching mid-day and the temperature was unseasonably warm and humid. Birds and other wildlife were making themselves scarce as they were fleeing from the uncomfortably warm weather. We were just about to abandon hope and pack up our bags as we saw little chance of acquiring any more wildlife subjects to photograph.

We decided to do one more pass on a path through a deciduous forest hoping to beat the heat. We knew very well that our chances of seeing Warblers were good as these passerines are on their fall migration as well. We also knew that most of them would probably be too high up in the trees to photograph. What we didn’t expect was this beautiful Female Red-tailed Hawk, sitting still, atop a broken tree trunk. She stood tall and large in all her might even for a juvenile.

She was totally aware of our presence and she let us approach without concern as she carried on with her activities. She was busy harassing squirrels, more like a playful hunt than an actual your dinner hunt. She circled trees on the ground pecking at squirrels and then she’d pick up and pounce on an other one. Squirrel’s all around were frozen stiff on trees crying out in alarm.

Eventually she flew away through the woods. It was low, smooth, yet impressive flight. I hadn’t envisioned seeing a Red-tailed hawk in this forest as I attributed it more to the environment of a Cooper’s Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk. I had assumed that Red-tailed Hawks stayed more in the open waiting for prey to pass by.

PHOTO INFORMATION:

This image was captured with a Nikon D300s and a Nikkor 70-300 VR Lens. I was shooting at ISO 800 due to the low light conditions. 1/60th at f/6.7 with Nikon SB-900 flash in TTL mode at -1 to fill flash. Capture NX2 was used to develop the RAW image and the final processing including noise reduction completed in PS CS4.

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