Hawk On the Hunt in My Garden


The Flying Pursuit

I photographed the garden drama where the sparrows won the battle for life.


Talk about a hard subject to photograph. Hawks in pursuit of prey are fast-moving to put it mildly. Drama in the yard daily and this guy gets nothing. I almost threw him a steak I felt so bad.


The dive above and below was not so hard to capture, although the images a tad under exposed. Looks fast doesn’t he?


He was only going to another perch, but put the pedal to the metal so to speak.


Now I am losing getting my camera focused and set. The hawk intently gazes then leaves the planter to start to circle and disorient his prey. He pretty much does that to me.


I am starting to lose control of the action. He jumps out of my focus range. Setting the camera to spot metering could have solved the problem, but all this was happening too quickly.


I did change the ISO twice though, not like it helped. I just get blurry tail below.


A bit of control is back as…


He circles the fir.


He comes around and goes in for a kill.


Finds nothing within reach. The sparrows are screaming bloody murder, yet not one of them was touched. So the hawk tries to confuse them and flush out a few tasty snacks.


Here we go again, round and round, three more times.


I can’t keep up. This guy is making me dizzy. Hundreds of sparrows for the pickins, but not one within grasp for the hungry raptor.


Another spin around, he switches directions for luck!


The photos get blurrier and blurrier, but here he goes in again.


Sparrows are in there but are a little wily.


Nothing like missing dinner. Off to find yards without so much greenery.


I have to show you these two shots I took on another day. I decided I would go outside and see how close I could get. This is how the hawks usually hunt in the yard, the stealth method, not the shock and awe.



Here I am close enough to where if I put out my hand, he would have had a finger for lunch. Only lilac twigs stood between him and me. I am between two of the arbs that front the fence. What a thrill to be that near a wild hawk.

But I think I can tell you why I could get so close too. While I was sneaking up on him, sparrows were fleeing the yard. The hawk was so intent on watching his meal fly away, sparrow after sparrow, yet too afraid to fly past me to get them. The sparrows must have thought me their savior as all were leaving behind me, but I bet Mr. Hawk hates me and wishes I was his size or smaller. Sorry bub, always next time.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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38 Responses to Hawk On the Hunt in My Garden

  1. Really great shots! Too bad it did not lunch on English Sparrows!

  2. Such exciting pictures! I love the ones in mid-flight. I kind of feel bad for the hawk, all that work and no food.

  3. Fantastic shots!! I love filming birds in my backyard, too. I know how hard it is to get these shots, let alone great ones… I have a cute post about birds, too. Enjoy: http://farawaypeachgarden.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/house-finches-and-goldfinches/

  4. Great series of shots! I’ve had a hawk sit in my neighbor’s tree looking for birds at my feeder. Last time this happened, there were no birds around… I think they somehow knew he was watching!

  5. alesiablogs says:

    Beautiful photography.

  6. A.M.B. says:

    These are such lovely pictures! It’s hard to get a good view of a hawk. They have such intelligent-looking faces.

  7. seattlecharlie says:

    Your photos are really amazing and quite a bit of fun to watch your hawk in action.

  8. You got a great series of this Sharp-shinned Hawk. I love them–even though I don’t like them eating my other birdies.

  9. I’m sure those sparrows think of you as their savior!!!! Great shots and very difficult ones too!
    Happy Wednesday, Donna!

  10. One hungry hawk.
    Imagine being able to turn your head right round!

  11. Sue says:

    Fabulous shots! Even the ones you find fault with look great to a “point and shoot” photography hack like me.

  12. Christy says:

    Isn’t this a beautiful creature??!! So graceful, I just love watching them. Love the pictures and how exciting it must have been to be that close to one. Amazing!!!

  13. gauchoman2002 says:

    Amazing photos (as always). That you could capture so many action shots so well is a testament to your photographing ability. Well done. And don’t feel bad for the hawk, it was just a few posts ago that he was snacking on something, I mean the hawk can’t win every time right?

  14. Wonderful captures! I never can get that close to the hawks in my garden. If I step foot outside they are off. I find it hilarious that he sits on your planter. Well, it is a good thing they only need to eat once a day. Did you know that they can make a meal of worms and crickets too?

  15. Amazing photos! I loved it when we had a hawk nesting one house over. It was great watching them.

  16. Sharon says:

    Beautiful photos. I wish I had your talent. It may be my camera or just me…I need practice.

  17. You are such a keep observer it always amazes me what you capture!

  18. I really adore hawks for their stately look and their tenaciousness…I observe them sometimes in the garden but more on the road where there are so many along the roadways laying in wait…as always fabulous pictures especially getting that close.

  19. Pat says:

    Great action photos! It’s not easy being a hawk. Hope he found a meal – I just don’t like to witness their strikes.

  20. Wow, exciting! What a stirring event! As always when you’re presenting your amazing (action) photos as well as your really perfect captions …. ^^
    Love it!

  21. Loving your captures – what a beautiful hawk:) Have a Great Day!

  22. Love the pictures! They are so good! Once I witness a falcon eating a starling alive. I think we shouldn’t interfer too much with nature.

  23. Love the photos and the way you tell a story!

  24. Patty says:

    Wow, that was like a mini movie! I got caught up in all that action too. Great shots blurry and all.

  25. Your pictures are beautiful!!! I love birds and really enjoyed seeing your photos. Thanks for sharing.

  26. These are awesome! More like the Hawk in motion photos that I get. They move so quickly and it’s so hard to keep track of them in the lens. I think you did a great job as you have bird motion blur, while I get total blur. 🙂 Nice Cooper’s Hawk.

  27. Phil Lanoue says:

    Fantastic photos of this amazing hawk!

  28. janechese says:

    Is this a sharp-shinned hawk or a Cooper’s? (off I go to the field guide again) I like your narration as well as the photos as you follow it’s hunt.Very entertaining and I can appreciate the quick exposure changes.

  29. Brian Comeau says:

    Such an amazing creature. You are very fortunate to have such beautiful animals around. Another benefit of your fabulous garden I’m sure.

  30. It’s so difficult photographing raptors. I used to (try to) photograph peregrine falcons. I tend to have a little more luck with lumbering red-tailed hawks though, as they don’t zip by so fast! I think you did a great job, especially keeping this one mostly in focus. Lately I keep flushing a red-shouldered hawk that’s perched on an arbor in the orchard, looking for prey, and of course I NEVER have my camera with me! Sometimes I think I should just run around the farm with a helmet cam on!

  31. You’re the best at wildlife photography, Donna. Truly incredible shots! Hawks and eagles are amazing to watch!

  32. I love this post–the photos and the narrative were so exciting. We have hawks but they don’t get this close to our garden. They sit way up in trees or circle the sky.

  33. Amazing photography again, Donna! And a hawk in your garden too!

  34. bkwrm says:

    Love the photos …I did name my son after this bird…long story. Thanks for posting truly enjoyed.

  35. polly says:

    Great series of shots, I am jealous I have a new blog of nature starting if you get a change to check it out. http://pollyaiken.com/

  36. Took me a little while to get to your posts, but wanted to read each and every one I missed. Those are amazing hawk pictures. So interesting that he circled the fir so many times, hoping to get a sparrow to come within his grasp.

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