Red-Tailed Hawks
Changing Places
October 2006


Photographed from over a thousand feet (or 300 meters), the following sequence doesn't have as much detail as I'd prefer. At the same time I'm very pleased to have captured the sequence, which occurred within seconds.

An adult red-tailed hawk (who I'll call Mom) was calling from the moment she landed on a vine-covered tree. A few minutes later, an immature red-tailed hawk (who I'll call Junior) flew over.

The first photo is reduced to two-thirds its original size, for web purposes. More important, note that Junior is flying below the top of the tree, in order to reduce speed when he ascends to land.

Red-tailed hawk calling and red-tailed hawk responding

Mom lifts her wings at the start of her departure while Junior is applying full breaks to prepare for landing.
Hawks taking off and landing
  Mom jumps high over the treetop while Junior is touching down. Their timing is magnificent. If Mom was a second later or Junior a second earlier, there would have been a collision. (Mom's tail is a deep red, whereas Junior's tail is more muted.)
Red-tailed hawks taking off and landing
  Mom spreads her wings in flight while Junior works to balance his landing. (Note on the left wing of Junior, the light square patch toward the end of his wing; that square patch helps identify an immature red-tailed hawk.)
Red-tailed hawk taking off and landing

The following photo is also reduced to two-thirds its size. Mom is flying away, and Junior is solving his balance problem.
Red-tailed hawks flying away and settling down

It took Junior about a quarter of a minute before he was secure on his perch.

Photo note: I used a Pentax *ist D, with the SMC 1000mm reflex (handheld), for these photos. The sequence was consecutive (2 or 3 frames a second), one of the few times I had remembered to hold down the shutter button while an action occurred.

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