Today is the first day of Autumn. I love the fall with the warm sunny days and cool crisp nights. Fall also means that different birds are beginning to move into the area. One species of bird that has begum to show up is the rough-legged hawk. One has already been reported in the Twin Cities where it wintered last year. These photos where taken at Crex Meadows last fall.
Rough-legged hawks spend their summer in Canada north to the Arctic Circle. They get their name from the feathers that cover their legs down to their feet. The feet themselves are smaller the normal for a Buteo hawk because most places that they can perch in their summer habitat are very small. Rough-legged hawks come in two different color morphs. The dark morph, pictured in the first photo, is not as common as the light morph, second photo. There is also an amount of cross breading between the two morphs leading to different intermediate individuals.