Red-shouldered Hawk On The Hunt

by Larry on September 20, 2010

Red-shouldered Hawk Hunting photos by Larry Jordan

On my way out of Wildhorse Golf Club territory last week, where I stopped to count Burrowing Owls on the way home from the California Burrowing Owl Consortium meeting, I happened upon this Red-shouldered Hawk, hawking a meal in the narrow strip of grass between the trail and the open fields to the East.

Focused on his prey, waiting to pounce, I almost took him for a stump sticking up out of the ground until he moved

He was so intent on the capture of the prey that he didn’t even notice me setting down my tripod and snapping off these shots through some tall grass.
I wondered what it was that he was hunting.  Red-shouldered Hawks mainly eat small mammals, frogs and reptiles and this was perfect habitat for all of the above.
He seemed to have something under his control but I couldn’t see the prey
There was quite a bit of distraction nearby in the form of groups of people speaking loudly on the trail

but he was still focused on something.  Something small.  Maybe a lizard.  Them he turned around and flew
into a nearby tree where he stayed pretty well hidden in the shadows as I waited.
Red-shouldered Hawks generally hunt from a perch, waiting to swoop down to snatch their prey and I was waiting with him to try and catch the action.  He was looking around the entire time as I watched from a distance.  Then, all of a sudden, he took flight, directly toward me.  I snapped off one quick shot.
To my amazement, he landed on the ground, not far from where I was standing.  I re-focused as quickly as I could and shot the portrait you see at the front of my post before he took off, most likely for better, quieter hunting grounds.
To see more photos of birds from all over the world, check out Bird Photography Weekly.
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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

John September 21, 2010 at 6:15 am

That’s a much darker Red-shouldered Hawk than the ones I’m used to seeing.
John´s last post ..Three Moths and a Butterfly

NatureFootstep September 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm

this is a bird I would love to see in real life. For some reason I like the colors of its bill.

May I ask, are there a difference between the words bill and beak? For some reason I think the first is a small one, the latter strong and sturdy. But I might be wrong about that.
NatureFootstep´s last post ..Silltrut – Larus fuscus – Lesser Black-backed gull

Dawn Fine September 21, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Love that last shot! Great encounter.
Dawn Fine´s last post ..The Birds and the Bees Daily

Larry September 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm

@John the western Red-shouldered Hawks are darker than the eastern form and the birds in Florida are apparently paler still

@NF these birds are my favorite Buteo, incredible in person! Bill and beak are interchangeable terms

@Dawn thank you very much

Mike B. September 21, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Love the photos. I have such a hard time identifying hawks. Usually for me, it’s too easy to just call it a red-tailed and be done, but your photos are clear enough to tell that this would be wrong!
Mike B.´s last post ..Katydid Nymph in a Fine Mess

Larry September 21, 2010 at 9:33 pm

@Mike hawks can be difficult to ID, especially if they are still juveniles

Amy September 22, 2010 at 7:14 am

Just from the title of this post I knew I’d love it! Great series, and that last shot is a stunner!

Larry September 22, 2010 at 7:34 pm

@Amy thank you very much. The namesake “red shoulders” really stand out in that last shot don’t they?

April September 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Amazing photos!
April´s last post ..My World

Phil September 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

Great close-ups Larry and the bird is absolutely intent on that meal as you so accurately describe and record.
Phil´s last post ..Its Those Finches Again

Bird Feeders September 23, 2010 at 10:10 am

Great photographs! You were to lucky to give that “stump” a second glance as to realize what you were really looking at! When the hawk flew to the branch initially, could you see anything in its talons? I always enjoy observing Red-shoulder Hawks perched near the edge of a field scanning for prey, it’s fascinating to watch the hunt in action!

Larry September 23, 2010 at 9:05 pm

@April thank you very much

@Phil he was intent whatever he saw

@BF thank you very much. I never saw anything in the bird’s talons. I think it missed its prey

dean December 15, 2010 at 10:21 am

I have one that flies down and feeds off of a big rock . I’ve been feeding them for 8 years and they have come back every fall so far. Just fed one about 10 minutes ago

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