For the last few days, I have been out and about again, off in Canada and checking out local wildlife in our area.
The weather is fooling a lot of birds into thinking Spring has arrived. This has me a bit concerned since warmer weather does not always coincide with food supplies for the early migrants. The Red tailed Hawk in these photos was likely a bird that wintered in our area, but it is still a bit early for the flush of newly reared rodents to appear.
Their diet includes small mammals, birds and reptiles, which varies with location and season. Mammals such as voles, rats, rabbits, and even squirrels are their major prey items, but they eat birds as well. This particular hawk looks like it pounced on prey, but nothing was there to capture. He came to ground twice while I was watching.
Unfortunately, he was a bit close for my lens. I clipped the wings on a few really good shots, like the one below. I should have backed off on the focal length.
Still debating how to crop them for closeup shots. I can really do a serious crop and have just part of the wings with the head. What do you think? Dancing or close crop?
Hawks and Eagles are some of my favorite birds to photograph, but over on Nature and Wildlife Pics, I have the Snowy Owls we saw up in Canada. You might want to click over there for a bird you see less often. I have a lot of new critters to show from my trip across the border. So much more wildlife can be found a bit further north.
In WNY, we just have to look a bit more, and mostly find the same critters. Earlier in the day of this hawk shoot, I was photographing Pileated and Red Bellied Woodpeckers. They are also nice birds to see.
There is always much more action with hawks and eagles, a lot more of a challenge to photograph too. I promised a friend I would mention camera settings for this series, and this is why the images are captioned. I have a long lens, so the shutter speed must be up for a heavy lens to be hand-held, but it is also for the flight shots. Since there is a dark bird against a stormy gray sky, I also had exposure compensation set to between 0.7 and 2.0 depending on where the hawk was at the time. This allows the dark shadowing on the hawk to become better exposed while sacrificing the nondescript sky.
One of North America’s most widespread hawk, the Red tailed Hawk is common here, but they are very skittish birds.
You can just roll down the window in the car and they see that movement and vacate the area. There are 16 sub-species of Red tailed Hawks in North America, something that surprised me.
Because of forest loss, Red tailed Hawks have largely replaced Red shouldered Hawks in many parts of eastern North America. Rarely do I see the latter.