Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk Hunting from a Telephone Pole

by Larry Jordan on January 10, 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) photos by Larry Jordan

Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) seem to be doing very well in northern California. I see them nearly every day in several different locations (click on photos for full sized images). As I have said many times, these hawks are my favorite Buteo.

This beauty was seen in McArthur when I was on the hunt for the Common Redpoll (see previous post). As I left the road where the Western Screech-Owl was located, this juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk was seen atop a telephone pole looking for lunch. As it turned to take off of from the cross-member, I took this photo. You will notice its nictitating membrane is covering its eyes. This is an inner eyelid used to clean and moisten the cornea.

As the bird flew down from the pole, it pounced on something and was back up atop a pole on the other side of the road in an instant. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have gotten out my video camera to document the rodent lunch.

As it was, I didn’t even have time to adjust the settings on the camera for a faster exposure and got several blurry images of the hawk scarfing down what looked like a meadow vole. I chose the best one for this post.

It only took the hawk about 15 seconds to dispatch the vole, finishing it off in one big gulp. By pulling it from his talon and lunging down with his head, he engulfed the entire rodent and then took a big swallow.

The show was over. Time to clean up a bit. Check those talons for tidbits, scrape the beak and relax for a moment.

From the look of that pole, it is used fairly often, probably by this same bird.

I think this Red-shouldered Hawk is still hungry.

I did get a shot of him looking right at me but it wasn’t sharp. I love those photos of raptors looking directly at you. I call it the raptor’s stare. He took a second glance at me, then looked off, not considering me a threat after all this time.

Is it any wonder why this is my favorite Buteo? Just look at him or her, just finished lunch and ready to go!

For more great bird photos, you will definitely want to head over to World Bird Wednesday. If you haven’t already posted, come on and join the fun!

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