January’s bird-of-the-month

Heard this red-shouldered hawk somewhere in my backyard a couple days ago. Difficult to triangulate his location, but after a while I recalled these guys are often lower than you think, so I aimed closer to the ground and found him, only about 20 feet up on a branch, just biding his time. He looked so relaxed and comfortable I went back in the house, grabbed the camera, mounted the telephoto lens, and went back outside. Sure enough, he was waiting patiently. He posed for about 15 minutes. I was waiting for him to fly so I could get a good shot of his wings extended. From time to time I had to lower the camera from my eyes to rest my arms. Fingers were getting numb and feet were beginning to ache. I walked around, waved at him, talked to him. He sat and looked at me and looked all around. Finally I figured I would try to get him to fly, so I tossed a stick into the air under the branch on which he was perched. He stretched, which is the picture above, but didn’t fly right away. He waited another minute until I lowered the camera and glanced away for a second. By the time I could re-aim and shoot, he was 20 yards away and moving fast. I did manage to get his wings to show up in one frame, but it was not a good picture. This was the best of over 50 I took. Note he’s holding on with only his right claw. He’s stretching his left leg out, the left claw is below the branch. He appears to have been stretching his shoulder and wing or tail feathers as well, getting ready to fly.

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