Raptors Watching People

by Larry Jordan on November 21, 2010

Red-tailed Hawk Looking Past Me photos by Larry Jordan

The weather was suppose to be cold and wet according to the weather person (like they really know).  I checked weather.com Friday night and it said there would be a break in the storm in the morning with rain returning in the afternoon.  It was sprinkling at my house at 5 am but I was ready to go.  After all, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is only an hour and a half from my front door.

It was cold and windy but the sun broke through for part of the day and it calmed down before the real storm hit at about 2:30 in the afternoon.

As I left the parking lot at the visitors center, within the first five minutes of my auto tour, a Peregrine Falcon flew across the road in front of me!  Well, there’s a good omen, I said to myself.  As I drove about another half a mile, I noticed a small raptor sitting in a snag a couple hundred yards off the road.  It was the Peregrine.

And then, there were two.  They were making very loud vocalizations as they displayed their amazing aerial attributes.  This collage is the best I could do with the conditions and the distance but I hope you get the idea of what an incredible show it was!

Later on I got a shot of an adult Peregrine watching me

This is one of my favorite things about raptors.  They look you right in the eye.  You can feel a real connection with them, even though they usually seem more curious than interested in what you are doing.

Maybe they just like to people watch, like this Red-shouldered Hawk that was so well hidden, I had a tough time getting this photo.

Unlike the Red-tailed Hawk at the top of the post that actually kept getting closer to me as I sat in my car, clicking away.

One of the two Great Horned Owls I spotted was in and out of view as the wind blew the branches back and forth across his resting place.  He was watching me like a hawk.

Here’s looking at you kid!  For more great bird photos from around the world, check out Bird Photography Weekly.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mick November 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

Great photos of all the birds looking right at you but the collage showing the aerial manoeuvres is just fantastic. They certainly put on a great show for you!


Mike B. November 22, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Yeah, they look right at you. And, they make me feel like I look like a steak or chicken to them a la a Bugs Bunny cartoon!


Lana November 22, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Great captures! Kudos on the peregrins–that must’ve been awesome!


Drew November 23, 2010 at 7:08 am

Wow, great photos, where these all digiscoped shots?


Amy November 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Wow! Those Peregrine aerial antics are amazing!


Larry November 23, 2010 at 8:57 pm

@Mick falcons are amazing and the Peregrines put on a show like I had never seen

@Mike now that’s funny 🙂

@Lana awesome indeed. I soaked it all in

@Drew these were all digiscoped except the falcon maneuvers. They were shot with my 80 – 400mm zoom lens

@Amy it was fascinating. I wish I had been a bit closer to get some really good photos


NatureFootstep November 25, 2010 at 2:07 am

that was something special you were able to witness. Good to get shots at all.
I love the falcons, I wish they were more common over here. But I rarely see them and never this close.


Amber Coakley November 25, 2010 at 7:10 pm

You had a great raptor day! Peregrines – wow! I just saw many of these same raptors at a rehab facility in Winter Park, FL – here visiting family for Thanksgiving. What impressive and powerful creatures they are! All of the raptors I saw were in rehab for one reason or another – your pictures of these birds in the wild is the perfect accompaniment.


Larry November 26, 2010 at 12:22 am

@NF I also consider falcons very special and I consider Peregrines at the pinnacle of that family, although I have yet to witness a Gyrfalcon

@Amber yes, it was a great raptor day. I love raptors, they are so powerful and have incredible presence


Syd December 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Wow. Great shots! I look forward to one day seeing a Peregrine in the wild. I’ve witnesssed a demonstration at the Avian Reconditioning Center in Apopka, Florida. Amazing.
I saw my first merlin in the wild at Hypoluxo Scrub in Hypoluxo Fl. He was perched atop a scraggly pine tree, maybe 18 feet up. I circled that tree for 20 minutes, and he watched me but did not move. Then suddenly a small bird flew into a lower part of the tree. The merlin was up in the air. Then he made a quick turn and drove that bird off the branch, catching it immediately after. Oh to have had a video camera…but the eye contact I made with that fantastic bird will stay with me forever.


Larry December 28, 2010 at 9:30 pm

@Syd falcons are my favorite group of raptors. They are so agile and so quick. I bet that was an amazing thing to watch that Merlin in action and I definitely know what you mean about the eye contact with these birds. They have a calm yet powerful look in their eyes.


Nicole December 29, 2010 at 3:05 am

Sweet goodness, those close ups and the flight show are incredible again.
Glad you got out to see all this :)!


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