Friday, February 4, 2011

Visitor from the North

Yesterday the sky finally cleared up so I decided head to head over to New Brighton, a northern suburb of the Twin Cities, after work. There have been reports for around a week or so about a rough-legged hawk that had been seen rather reliably in the area so I decided I would go take a look.
I followed the directions that I had, and parked on the side road that was indicated in the directions. There was a large snow covered field to the south of me with a large company building to the east of that. From where I was parked I could not see any sign of the hawk so after a few minutes I decided to drive back to the main road and head south along the field.
As I got about halfway down the block I finally spotted the rough-leg floating above the field. So I turned around and went back and parked on the side street. Since the hawk was to the south the light was very bad for taking pictures, so I threw on my boots and went for a walk. I walked south of where the bird was located so that the sun would be behind me and took these pictures as it hunted in the field.
Rough-legged hawks breed up in the tundra and tiaga regions of the north. These habitats do not have many trees and so the hawks have had to adapt. Instead of perching in trees looking for prey like that hawks in my area do, rough-legged hawks often hover in mid air so that they can search the ground under them for potential prey. These last three shots above are examples of the bird hover hunting.
The rough-legged hawk got its common name because its feathers extend down its legs all the way down to its toes. These feathers help insulate the legs from the cold temps that can be found up in the tundra and tiaga. The only other hawk in North America with feathers extending to its toes is the ferruginous hawk, although golden eagles are also booted raptors that can be found in North America.

14 comments:

Miki & Tucker - St. Paul, MN said...

Wow. Fabulous. Fantastic.

Thank you!

Mama Zen said...

These are absolutely breathtaking!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Very nice filght shots.

KaHolly said...

OMG, these images are incredible. I didn't know a Sharp-shinned could hover! Probably because I've only ever seen one flying away, and then wasn't sure what it was! I'm envious. Thanks for the info.~karen

eileeninmd said...

Awesome looking hawk. I love the last shot!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Amazing photos. Great natures lesson also.

Valerie said...

WOW - those are amazing captures.
Such talent!!

EG Wow said...

Excellent shots of the hawks!

Kathiesbirds said...

Wonderful, wonderful shots of this magnificent bird!

Jidhu Jose said...

Wow...superb shots

Siromade said...

Wow...an amazing photos, i like how they spread there wings and fly like butterfly...I really admire your shots.

Marie said...

Wow, those are fantastic photos -- just gorgeous!

Visiting from Camera Critters.

Steve Borichevsky said...

Wonderful! I saw one this year too. Back in the Front Range of Colorado, Rough Legs and Ferrugies were common. But with the building boom, the populations are dropping with loss of habitat.

Susan said...

Wow! What amazing shots! Thank you for sharing a bird I have never seen in real life. I love watching the American Kestrels for the same hovering behavior.
It really looks as if this hawk was posing just for your lens. Very cool.