Dark Morph Rough-legged Hawk

Dark Morph Rough-legged Hawk

According to Sibley, dark morphs make up less than 10% of the population of Rough-legged Hawks found in the west. I don’t recall ever having seen one before, and I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking at when I found this one. I was very happy that it posed for me for so long before launching.

This is the first roughie I’ve seen this fall. They pass through the Calgary area every fall and spring during the migration, and in milder years they are even known to overwinter here. Last year was such a nasty, cold winter that we hardly saw any at all. The spring was also very late this year, so when they did finally arrive they they didn’t stick around for long. We’ve been having a very nice (and late) fall so far and I’m very hopeful that we’ll have them here all winter this year!

Sing for me!

Eastern Kingbird on a barbed wire fence

This is the first Kingbird I’ve seen this season. Although technically a songbird, their call is no substitute for a meadowlark! I’ve never heard one singing before though so this was a pretty cool encounter for me. And it’s always cool when a bird will continue to sing while it’s being watched rather than immediately flying away instead.

These are some of the later birds to show up in the Calgary area in the spring and their arrival is a pretty good sign that summer is just around corner. The main reason for their late arrival is that they overwinter in South America. That’s a long way to fly in the spring and the fall!

Beautiful Morning Light

Swainsons Hawk on a Fencepost

I love watching these majestic birds and I’m always happy when they share a few minutes of their time with me! I particularly love it when I get to see them in the soft light of the early morning. Because of the very early sunrise at this time of year, that means getting up very early. Unfortunately that hasn’t worked out very often for me lately, so I have to make the best of those days that I do get out early.

Swainsons Hawk perched on a Fencepost

Swainsons Hawk preparing to launch

Swainson’s Hawk on a Power Pole

I’m always get very excited when I see a perching hawk somewhere close enough to make a nice portrait, and even though I have hundreds of similar images, I always have to stop to try to make another one!

More often than not hawks fly away as soon as they sense that I’m even thinking about pointing my camera at them; however, every once in a while, one will actually cooperate and allow me to take a few shots before it flies. This Swainsons actually sat and watched me very intently from its perch at the top of a power pole for a few minutes (and gave me some very nice poses) before launching…

Finally some color!

It’s been a long winter and after many months of snow and dull grey skies I was really starting to get tired of making images that were largely monochrome. I’m not saying I was only shooting black and white, because I really don’t do much of that, but there have been a lot of images that were largely 1 or 2 colors (often including white and brown), and even those were relatively dull and muted. Or at least it seems that way now that I’m thinking back on it.

But now that spring is finally here there are many new and interesting subjects showing up every day. We still haven’t seen many new spring flowers, but everything is starting to green up and it won’t be long before there are colorful leaves and flowers everywhere!

One common subject that I’ve been seeing every day lately are Yellow-headed Blackbirds. These vibrant birds are both beautiful and interesting to watch. Like their Red-winged cousins they are very curious and usually willing to pose for a portrait while they check you out in return. Mostly I’m just grateful to have colorful subjects readily available once again!

Yellow-headed Blackbird perched on slough grasses

Yellow-headed Blackbird perched on slough grasses

Red-winged Blackbird perched on a fencepost

Female Red-winged Blackbird perched on a fencepost