Red-tailed Hawk

March 7, 2013

Sometimes a great image falls in my lap and just such an opportunity occurred Sunday morning at Forest Park in St. Louis. I arrived at the park before daylight and found my favorite spot—where I usually sit in wait for kingfishers, mink and waterfowl—frozen solid. I decided to wait in my truck for sunrise and then lug my 500mm lens, camera and tripod around the park in search of grab shots. I knew my shoulder wouldn’t appreciate the change of plan but I forged ahead when the sun showed its shiny face.

After walking about a quarter mile, I found some northern shovelers, green-winged teal, and two pied-billed grebes on a bit of open water downstream from the frozen area where I started. I stayed at that location for a while and made some nice images before I headed back west toward some of the cattail marshes within the park. On the way back I made several images of red-winged blackbirds singing atop cattails and I even made a high definition video of one of the randy males. As I continued my walk along the frozen creek, I saw some movement and a flash of dark brown. Sure enough, it was a curious mink taking a peek at me from a rock crevice. It wasn’t long before it got a little bolder and came out on a flat rock to look me up and down and sniff the air. Just as I was thinking, “What a morning!” I saw a shadow over head and the featured creature of this post, an immature red-tailed hawk, landed on a dead tree limb right over my head!

I spent the next thirty minutes photographing the young red tail as it surveyed the park from from what was obviously one of its favorite vantage points. It was getting late in the morning, that time when the sun becomes harsh, but the blue sky background buffered the effect of the strong light. By the time the hawk finally took flight I’d made so many images that I’ve included a bonus image of the scruffy raptor below.DJB_FP_2013_0233Click on image to enlarge; back arrow to return

Even with disheveled, juvenile plumage, I found this red tail to be beautiful and full of character. Later on I saw a mature red-tailed hawk with even more personality. My friend Deepa Mohan and I were heading into the visitor’s center to get a coffee when the stunning adult swept over our head, dived under a pine tree and chased an unidentified critter around in circles. A few seconds later it scurried out from under the tree and walked around on the sidewalk near the entrance to the building! Unfortunately, I’d already stowed my camera gear for the morning.

Next week, I’ll feature yet another raptor from my extraordinary morning at Forest Park. As Deepa and I were taking a walk-about we ran into a very camera-friendly American kestrel. I’m confident you will fall in love with the colorful male as soon as you see the image. In the meantime, please enjoy this young red-tailed hawk from Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri.

Thanks for Looking!


Immature Red-tailed Hawk:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with 1.4 TC; 1/1600 @ f/5.6; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley Gimbal Head; Converted and processed in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP)

Red-tailed Hawk Underside Plumage:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with 1.4 TC; 1/800 @ f/6.3; ISO 200; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley Gimbal Head; Converted and processed in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP)

18 comments on “Red-tailed Hawk”

  1. i’m a new follower to your blog (thanks to brenda!) & i anticipate every new post… your descriptions really bring the photos to life! thanks!

    • Hi Andrea — I’m glad to have a brand new follower and I appreciate your very kind comments. I have some great stories and photos on the ready line for the next few weeks and I’ll be photographing scaup and other waterfowl in the morning. Take care.

  2. Love the clarity of these photos.
    Look at those eyes!

  3. Thank’s Danny, for sharing your photos of the Red Tail Hawk. What a great poise. I hate to be the next meal for this guy. Those talons look mighty sharp. GREAT shot. Its always great to see these beautiful raptors up close. Thank you.


  4. Gorgeous photo and sounds like a great morning

  5. Great Pictures! Love the clarity and colors! Awesome Job!

  6. What remarkable images! Glad to hear of your excellent outing at Forest Park. I love the crispness of each shot. The blue sky behind makes the image even more stunning. Thanks, Danny!

    • A special morning for sure. Looking to get even better ones of the kestrel and seeing your baby owls.

  7. I saw Mr. Scruffy again when I went to Forest Park the next day…his “ruffled feathers” are quite distinctive. But he realized I am not Danny Brown, and started far away, and flew off even further! The image of the Red-tailed Hawk is quite one of my favourites (and this from a person who drools over each photo of yours in the Missouri Conservationist!) I do hope to have a few more mornings with you (after you are “off-duty”) in Forest Park. Thank you for this image!

  8. Awesome picture, as usual…and what a beautiful description….you have such a way with words…I really notice that and you don’t find that many people who can write like you do….it is sooooo professional…couldn’t be more proud of you Danny…it will be so wonleopardderful to read your up-coming future book….and I will enjoy your writings as much as the pictures….possible more…love you…

    • Thanks Jessee. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments and I’m glad you appreciate the finer points of my narratives. Take care.

  9. Lovely image, Danny.

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