Ferruginous Hawk – A Regal Raptor

Ferruginous Hawk in flight pano

Ferruginous Hawk with wings up
Tooele County, Utah
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/4000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

I love to say “Ferruginous”, I’m not sure exactly why but I think it is a fun word to pronounce, especially when I roll the “R’s”. Yes, it is probably a little odd to enjoy saying it so much but I don’t apologize for it! I love to say “Flammulated” too.

Ferruginous Hawks (Buteo regalis) are the largest hawks found in North America, the “regalis” in the latin name means “kingly” or “regal” and I have to agree with those descriptions. The English name; “Ferruginous”, means “rusty” and that also describes some of this hawk’s coloring very well.

Ferruginous Hawk

Bad timing
Tooele County, Utah
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 355mm, natural light, not baited or set up

Ferruginous Hawks are found in western North America in terrains from grasslands to open deserts. I often see them perched on utility poles, old snags, on top of sagebrush bushes or where I often find this species in Tooele County, on top of a small weather reporting station. My bad timing allowed the weather station to still be obvious in the photo above but these large raptors do take off quick and I wanted a series of shots as it lifted off, this was the first frame of that series.

I haven’t had the best of luck getting quality photos of this species, it seems that quite often they take off facing away from me and I like having eye contact with my subject. Once I spotted one slowly flying in to where I stood but alas I didn’t have my camera in hand. I told a friend to grab his camera and he got some decent images whilst I got nothing but a great view of the Ferruginous flying low and slow over my head. I hope my luck changes. Or I’ll need to seriously consider spending a lot of time waiting where I know I see these raptors.

Ferruginous Hawk in flight

Ferruginous Hawk with wings on a down beat
Tooele County, Utah
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

Yesterday I found this Ferruginous perched twice on the weather station so I was able to get two series of lift off shots and was quite pleased to have those opportunities. I like that the image above shows the “rusty” plumage on the wing, shoulder and back of this gorgeous hawk. I have not seen the dark morph of this species yet though I understand they are equally as stunning as the light morph.

Any time I see a Ferruginous (rolling my “R’s”) Hawk, they take my breath away

Mia

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