Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk Hunting from a Telephone Pole

by Larry Jordan on January 10, 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) photos by Larry Jordan

Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) seem to be doing very well in northern California. I see them nearly every day in several different locations (click on photos for full sized images). As I have said many times, these hawks are my favorite Buteo.

This beauty was seen in McArthur when I was on the hunt for the Common Redpoll (see previous post). As I left the road where the Western Screech-Owl was located, this juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk was seen atop a telephone pole looking for lunch. As it turned to take off of from the cross-member, I took this photo. You will notice its nictitating membrane is covering its eyes. This is an inner eyelid used to clean and moisten the cornea.

As the bird flew down from the pole, it pounced on something and was back up atop a pole on the other side of the road in an instant. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have gotten out my video camera to document the rodent lunch.

As it was, I didn’t even have time to adjust the settings on the camera for a faster exposure and got several blurry images of the hawk scarfing down what looked like a meadow vole. I chose the best one for this post.

It only took the hawk about 15 seconds to dispatch the vole, finishing it off in one big gulp. By pulling it from his talon and lunging down with his head, he engulfed the entire rodent and then took a big swallow.

The show was over. Time to clean up a bit. Check those talons for tidbits, scrape the beak and relax for a moment.

From the look of that pole, it is used fairly often, probably by this same bird.

I think this Red-shouldered Hawk is still hungry.

I did get a shot of him looking right at me but it wasn’t sharp. I love those photos of raptors looking directly at you. I call it the raptor’s stare. He took a second glance at me, then looked off, not considering me a threat after all this time.

Is it any wonder why this is my favorite Buteo? Just look at him or her, just finished lunch and ready to go!

For more great bird photos, you will definitely want to head over to World Bird Wednesday. If you haven’t already posted, come on and join the fun!

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

TexWisGirl January 10, 2012 at 8:23 am

he’s absolutely gorgeous. i love these raptors, too!


Sallie (FullTime-Life) January 10, 2012 at 10:30 am

Isn’t he lovely? (And I have no idea why I say “he”)….. I love the lunch picture — we’ve enjoyed watching raptors eat before, but somehow never seem to get a picture at all.


Mia McPherson January 10, 2012 at 10:35 am


I love these Red-shouldered Hawks too, they are only vagrants here in Utah though so I won’t see them often. I can look at yours though and feel happy.


Boom & Gary January 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

You got some nice shots though!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


Andrew January 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Wonderful images of a really beautiful Hawk.

Thanks for sharing..


Mick January 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm

A great series of photos and very interesting to watch the hawk in action.


Modesto Viegas (Portugal) January 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Nice photos in a good post!


eileen January 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Fantastic sighting and photos of the Red Shouldered hawk. it must have been cool to watch him hunt.


Martha Z January 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Great series, Larry. We don’t seem to have as many raptors down here in Lincoln this year. Maybe it is the weather. I did see a hawk, probably a red shouldered, fly right in front of me with a pigeon. I just caught a glimpse, he went to fast for me to ID.


Larry January 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm

@Theresa he or she is magnificent huh?

@Sallie next time I see a raptor with a meal I will pull out the video camera first!

@Mia thank you. You have so many beautiful raptors over there in Utah and I think you have some great photos of most of them

@Gary thanks

@Andrew thanks, you are very welcome

@Mick they are so intriguing. Watching bird behavior is what I really love to do

@Modesto thanks. Much appreciated

@Eileen it was nice of this bird to bring its prey back up to where I could watch it feed. Many times they will eat their prey where it lies

@Martha thank you. Strange weather for sure this year. Congrats on the Falcated Duck and Peregrine Falcon! I hope to see that duck this week 😉


Nicole January 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Sweet photos!
Lucky you to catch him with his prey!


holdingmoments January 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm

He certainly is a beauty Larry.
Great shots.


heyBJK January 11, 2012 at 1:02 am

Fantastic photos, Larry! Great close-up’s!


Mary Howell Cromer January 11, 2012 at 2:34 am

Larry, these are great images of such a favorite species of mine. I love that this young one seems to be doing so well and a beauty it is~


joo January 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

Superb photos of this gorgeous bird!


springman January 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Hey Larry,
I suppose it started wth clothes lines and moved on to telegraph lines and fences but don’t birds owe us a debt of gratitude for erecting these wonderful perches? Splendid captures of your favorite buteo.
By the way, I did catch up with that Metro Beach Snowy owl you so kindly alerted me too. I got some pictures but not “the” picture. Not yet. My header shot was taken there too along with a ton of other stuff.
Kind regards to you Sir, you made my week!


phyllis oller January 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

This is one of my fav birds,you caught him in action too! I took a picture one time of a hawk and he was eating a chipmunk head first,the tail was the last to go down.I was in a kind of paralized horror over it,but it was awesome anyhow.Great pictures!phyllis


raf January 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Excellent captures, Larry, of that handsome raptor doing his thing. Great post!


Ingrid January 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm

What a cool series, Larry. I love the Red-shouldereds also. In the right light, the vividness of that red is stunning. I’m amazed at how quickly this hawk got its meal down the hatch. I would have estimated a longer dining time. 🙂


Liz January 13, 2012 at 2:02 am

Great images Larry! I would love the chance to capture birds of prey. They really are fascinating.

Happy WBW – I was a bit slow in commenting this week. I didn’t post my WBW until late due to being unable to upload in Blogger for 12+ hrs!


Arija January 15, 2012 at 4:29 am

The hawk must have been rally hungry to woof the vole down in one gulp. Great sequence.


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