adventures in nature

hawk

free!!

Haya was released successfully on Monday, it was quite a day.

Good luck Haya!!!

Haya 1

Haya 1

the toss!

the toss to freedom!

Haya 2

Haya 2


dark morph extravaganza

Lot’s o dark morphs lately! Delicious.

The rains have passed and the light was perfect for a few more shots of the intermediate/dark morph in Berkeley …


day of the dark morphs

We saw a dark morph ferruginous hawk in Sonoma County the other week (!!), it’s been hanging around with a light morph ferruginous hawk in an area that also has at least one dark morph red-tailed hawk (probably the one that I photographed and posted here from last year).  A rare treat in Sonoma County to see ferruginous hawks of any plumage – the largest hawk native to the United States.

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph red-tailed hawk / Sonoma County CA

white-tailed kite / Sonoma County CA


higher purpose

juvenile red-tailed hawk *** oakland, ca


intermediate morph red-tailed hawk

rufous morph red-tailed hawk in flight / Berkeley CA

In drastic contrast to the “spirit” red-tailed hawk in the last post, I found this fella hunting here in Berkeley. Red-tailed hawks are one of the most “polymorphic” hawks, meaning they show a large variety of individual plumage within the species. This one is a “rufous” or “intermediate” morph (in contrast to light morph, dark morph, or leucistic) – it’s entire body is dark brown – with a bit of a rufous or gold hue on his chest feathers – and its underwing coverts are dark as well (in contract to the flight feathers which are still white with dark banding). These are found more commonly here in the Western U.S., and I always am especially thrilled to see one as they are somewhat rare. And beautiful.

The lighting wasn’t so good because the sun had already set behind some clouds/fog to the West. But you get the idea.

rufous morph red-tailed hawk / Berkeley CA

intermediate morph red-tailed hawk / Berkeley CA

rufous morph red-tailed hawk in flight / Berkeley CA

intermediate morph red-tailed hawk in flight / Berkeley CA

For some other pictures of a dark/intermediate morph red-tailed hawk, see my other post here.

As I was biking home after the sunset, I was stumbled on a lone great egret looking for a last fish before dark. It was chased off while I watched, by a heron that swooped in almost on top it, squawking like how I imagine a pterodactyl must have sounded. The whole scene was prehistoric and awkward, with both the birds gangling wings and legs flailing about, finally leaving me in the relative silence of twilight between worlds … and between the Berkeley Aquatic Park and Route 880/580 during rush hour!

great egret / Berkeley CA

great egret / Berkeley CA


partial leucistic red-tailed hawk

partial leucistic red-tailed hawk

(the following picture was added after the original post)

partial leucistic red-tailed hawk

partial leucistic red-tailed hawk

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 01 / Sonoma County CA

partial leucistic red-tailed hawk 01 / Sonoma County CA

Thanks to a tip from Larry “the raptor magnet” Broderick of West County Hawk Watch, I was able to see another amazing bird yesterday. Leucism is a recessive gene defect that affects the pigment cells’ development in some parts or an entire animal, causing either the whole animal or some of its feathers, fur, hair or skin to be white. It’s similar to (but different than) albinism, which only affects the melanin pigment cells. The effect can be really cool to see, as it is in this red-tailed hawk that I photographed in Sonoma County yesterday.

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 02 / Sonoma County CA

partial leucistic red-tailed hawk 02 / Sonoma County CA

Viewing the bird from the front or from underneath, it’s difficult to tell that it has different plumage than a typical red-tailed hawk, though on close inspection of it flying from underneath, you can see a couple of flight feathers that are all white. From a rear or top-down view while flying, it is obvious (and not easy to photograph!! I forgot to bring my jet pack yesterday).

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 03 / Sonoma County CA

partial leucistic red-tailed hawk 03 / Sonoma County CA

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 04 / Sonoma County CA

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 04 / Sonoma County CA

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 05 / Sonoma County CA

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 05 / Sonoma County CA

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 06 / Sonoma County CA

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 06 / Sonoma County CA

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 07 / Sonoma County CA

partially leucistic red-tailed hawk 07 / Sonoma County CA

A bald eagle that I photographed last winter also has leucism, and it was striking. See those posts with pictures again here.

Another local raptor expert, George Eade, photographed an almost completely white red-tailed hawk here in the Bay Area a few years ago, his pictures can be seen here. The bird and the pictures are absolutely amazing.


osprey moon twilight

osprey nest and moon

osprey nest and moon


Swainson’s hawk … on the coast?

Yes. It was. I know all of you are flabbergasted.

Actually, it was my first (conscious) sighting of a Swainson’s hawk. During the winter they migrate to South America, around April they are found in the Central Valley of CA. I was surprised to see one so close to the coast, it was quite a treat in addition to the beauty of Pt Reyes.

swainson's hawk 01 / Pt Reyes NS CA

swainson’s hawk 01 / Pt Reyes NS CA