One of the most exciting new birds that we photographed were the ferruginous hawks that were nesting out at Snake River Birds of Prey NCA. The ferruginous hawk is the largest hawk in North America with a wingspan of around four and a half feet and a weight of about two to four and a half pounds.
Ferruginous hawks are found in the western plains of the United States and parts of southern Canada. Their preferred habitat is unbroken grasslands with scattered trees and rock outcroppings. They hunt in several different ways but seem to prefer to attack their prey in a low skimming approach. Their food source consists mainly of rabbits and diurnal rodents, such as ground squirrels.
Because of the high quantity prey, mostly ground squirrels, that can be found in the area the Snake River Birds of Prey NCA has about 800 falcons, hawks, eagles and owls that nest in the area each year. Ferruginous hawks begin to nest in late April, in the southern part of their range, or May, for the rest of the range. The build stick nests in large trees, rock outcroppings or in transmission towers, as was the case with most of the nests that we saw at Snake River. In the past when bison roamed the area nest often included bison bones. The same nest is often used year after year with the nesting pair adding on to the nest each year, the same as bald eagles.