I’m using my blog for a slightly different purpose tonight -- to make sure interested birders can get a look at the photos we took today which verify the presence of a ferruginous hawk only about a mile from my home. I wish I could say I spotted him. I didn’t. Matt Hunter, an excellent birder, noticed this particular buteo didn’t look quite right to be a red-tailed hawk. Red-tails are common here and very variable in plumage. Most winters one or two rough-legged hawks are seen by someone in the county; and we have a decent number of red-shouldered hawks. I can only remember one other ferruginous hawk in the county in all the thirty plus years we have lived here. Ferruginous hawks nest in eastern Oregon and Washington, southern Idaho, most of Montana and Wyoming, and western North and South Dakota -- and usually go farther south for the winter.
Matt spotted the bird a few days ago and took the best picture he could using a cell phone and binoculars! Then he sent a call out hoping someone could get better pictures. Yesterday we got good enough photos to verify it is a ferruginous hawk. Today the sun cooperated and we got even better photos.
We spent a lot of time waiting for the hawk to come hunting near us and for awhile he landed in a tree near us. While Dale photographed I got to sketch.
|Note the feathering on his legs, typical of Ferruginous and Rough-legged hawks.|
|At some angles very little red shows on the tail.|
|In different light the tail has a reddish cast. We are quite sure there is only one bird.|
..... and we were treated to an extra surprise while we waited. A black-colored red fox came out and hunted in the same pasture the ferruginous hawk often hunted in.