Ferruginous Hawk on Rat Farm Road

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Our first Christmas Bird Count will be coming up on December 14th in Fall River Mills so I thought I would take a drive up there to see what I could see as the day approaches. Rat Farm Road is a long gravel road leading from the small town of McArthur, through some sage/prairie habitat to Horr Pond and Big Lake. An excellent location to spot raptors.

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) Juvenile photos by

I wasn’t disappointed. Besides the ever present Red-tailed Hawks, there were , Merlin and, my favorite, the Ferruginous Hawk. There is a long barbed wire fence that follows Rat Farm Road to its conclusion at the boat launch parking area with plenty of old wooden posts where raptors love to perch and look for prey. That’s where I spotted this juvenile hawk. Click on photos for full sized images.

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)

I love these juvenile raptors because they are usually not concerned too much with slowly approaching vehicles. They seem somehow not to have yet learned that humans can be dangerous.

How do I know this is a juvenile Ferruginous Hawk? This light morph juvenile still has brown tipped feathers on its thighs rather than the distinctive rufous thighs and has yet to develop the rufous shoulders of the adult.

I took several photographs of this beauty as it flew off to hunt, sometimes flying up and kiting to come down on the prey…

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)

then returning back to the perch, flying low to the ground.

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)

Ferruginous Hawks prey primarily on jackrabbits and cottontail rabbits as well as ground squirrels and prairie dogs. You may often find them standing in an open field near a fresh dirt mound waiting for a to push soil close to the surface when it will pounce on the earthen heap and pull out its prey.

This youngster didn’t find what it was looking for and flew back up to the same post and gave me the raptor stare.

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)

To see more cool bird photos check out Wild Bird Wednesday and The Bird D’pot.

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan is an avid birder and amateur photographer living on the Pacific Flyway near the Central Valley of Northern California. He is a board member of his local Audubon Society and is a bird and wildlife conservationist. Larry contributes to several wildlife conservation organizations and is a BirdLife International "Species Champion." He is also Habitat Manager for the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, an organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Western Burrowing Owl population in the United States. Larry has been blogging about birds since September of 2007 at TheBirdersReport.com

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan is an avid birder and amateur photographer living on the Pacific Flyway near the Central Valley of Northern California. He is a board member of his local Audubon Society and is a bird and wildlife conservationist. Larry contributes to several wildlife conservation organizations and is a BirdLife International "Species Champion." He is also Habitat Manager for the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, an organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Western Burrowing Owl population in the United States. Larry has been blogging about birds since September of 2007 at TheBirdersReport.com

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