Ferruginous Hawk Wintering In California

by Larry Jordan on January 10, 2010

Ferruginous Hawk photos by Larry Jordan

I am excited that I have had a wintering Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) grace our neck of the grasslands for the third year in a row!  So, I get to enjoy watching this largest of the Buteos for the next few months.

To me, this is one of the most beautiful hawks we have in North America.  The rufous back, shoulders and thighs contrasting with the mostly white underparts make this a truly distinguished and “regal” species.  This appears to be a juvenile bird, lacking the rufous thighs and only beginning to show what will become a more obvious rufous back and shoulders.  Note the large, bright yellow gape.

Watching as this low flying raptor, hunting mostly rabbits and ground squirrels in the West, reminds me of the Rough-legged Hawk that can be seen on low perches or hunting from the ground standing over rodent mounds.

I was fortunate to capture a couple of photos of this Ferruginous Hawk as it landed on a nearby fence post,

showing its beautiful upper wing pattern

before alighting on the next hunting perch.  I am looking forward to more sightings of this hawk as the winter turns to Spring.  Maybe I will be lucky enough to get some more photographs of one of my favorite hawks.  In the meantime, get on over to Bird Photography Weekly to see more great bird photos!

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Hagemor-Norway January 10, 2010 at 12:56 am

Wow georgeous!! I met an eagle the other day, but I have no experience…so even though she was so close I almost panicked, I didn’t get any good shots… Have a lovely day.
.-= Hagemor-Norway´s last blog ..At the feeding place 4 =-.


Eileen January 10, 2010 at 3:48 am

Great shots of an awesome looking hawk. Lucky YOU!
.-= Eileen´s last blog ..Ruddy Turnstone and Red Knots =-.


Mary Carlson January 10, 2010 at 9:33 am

Larry, I definitely agree that this young hawk is quite beautiful. But then, I really like all raptors. This is so cool that you have a Ferruginous Hawk so close to home; and what great photos to share. Thanks.
.-= Mary Carlson´s last blog ..Sandhill Crane Behavior class =-.


OpposableChums January 10, 2010 at 9:48 am

Amazing pix! Thanks.


Wren January 10, 2010 at 11:15 am

He’s beautiful. You captured the sense of motion so well in the first photo. I could almost feel the wind as he brushed by.

I wish you luck with getting more photos, even as i suspect that like most good photographers, you make your luck rather than wait for it to find you.
.-= Wren´s last blog ..four zoo birds (bird photography weekly) =-.


Amber Coakley January 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Beautiful bird, Larry. I don’t know if I’ve seen this kind of hawk before. I’ll sure keep an eye out when I head west for field trips!
.-= Amber Coakley´s last blog ..Eastern Phoebes Through the Years – Pages From Old Bird Guides =-.


Larry January 10, 2010 at 9:24 pm

@Hagemor thank you for stopping by with a comment

@Eileen thank you. I feel lucky whenever I get to see this beauty!

@Mary I also love all raptors and enjoy sharing them. Thank you very much.

@Jason thanks for the comment!

@Wren thank you for your constant support

@Amber your should be able to see it near you in the winter if you keep your eyes peeled. You might have to go a bit West, I don’t know but here is the map, courtesy of Cornell Lab


Nicole January 11, 2010 at 12:07 am

He’s a gorgeous Beauty!
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..Shopping carts on coral reefs =-.


bob k January 11, 2010 at 10:02 am

The first photo is just awesome, Larry! Ferrugs are so majestic they are almost eagle-like.
.-= bob k´s last blog ..Four Play =-.


Eve January 11, 2010 at 12:32 pm

What a fun visitor to have hanging around! He is very photogenic. 😉
.-= Eve´s last blog ..A Little Friend =-.


NatureFotostep Fåglar/Birds January 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm

that is such a beautiful bird. And your images amazing. We don´t have that much hawks around but hopefully I can see some teh coming season.
I wanted to thank you for the nice comment on teh crossbills. Coming from you it means a lot. 🙂
.-= NatureFotostep Fåglar/Birds´s last blog ..oidentifierat – unidentified =-.


Maria Berg January 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm

The one you saw eating the frozen apple was a is a species of true thrush. It is also called Eurasian Blackbird.
Like the photos you show us MB


chris January 11, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Well done on it Larry. This is just such a gorgeous bird that I can imagine how happy you were, especially with these wonderful shots!
.-= chris´s last blog ..Birds at Tjörnin, Reykjavík =-.


Scott January 11, 2010 at 11:13 pm

What a great way to get an up close Ferruginous introduction. Like Amber I don’t believe I have come across this hawk in the wild…but now will be keeping eyes open as I travel about the west.
.-= Scott´s last blog ..The hills are forlorn with the sound of dozers =-.


Kelly January 12, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Wow! That first and third shot really take it–just gorgeous. Glad he’s wintering near you again. I’ve never seen one…
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..…tough little birds of winter, continued! =-.


Amy January 13, 2010 at 2:07 am

Fantastic shots! Bet you have one heck of a camera (and lens). I completely understand why watching birds and nature in general give you so much and reduce stress…you’d love Norway…
Warm greetings from the woods of Norway 🙂


birdchaser January 13, 2010 at 11:56 am

Hey Larry, the tail of this bird looks like it might have been singed in an open flame–are their any methane burners (from landfills or gas operations) in the area?
.-= birdchaser´s last blog ..Whooping Crane Video (TPWD) =-.


Larry January 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Thank you all for your comments.

@Birdchaser thank you for the observation and the link to the information on the methane burners. As far as I know, we have none of these in our area but I will definitely check into it.

Since this bird recently arrived in this area, it may have encountered this phenomenon before its arrival. I had not seen this on a bird before and was curious as to what could have caused it.


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