Monday, March 19, 2012

Rough-Legged Hawk on Railway Crossing Signs

We saw several hawks on Saturday when we drove home from Moose Jaw to Regina along Highway 39. Only one — this Rough-Legged Hawk — was cooperative enough to sit on railway crossing signs and wait for the photo sessions to begin.

Rough-Legged Hawks breed in the Arctic and winter from southern Canada south, through grasslands and open cultivated areas. All About Birds highlights their dark wrists and broad dark bellies as identification marks.

The Cornell-sponsored ABB site also says that the Rough-Legged Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk and Golden Eagle are the only hawks in North America to be feathered all the way down their legs to their talons. (Extra warmth for their cold climates.) If you look closely, you can see the leg feathers in several of these images, all taken of the same (cooperative) hawk.

For more clues, I looked at How to Identify a Rough-Legged Hawk, from Hawk Ridge in Duluth, MN.

After we passed this Rough-Legged Hawk perched on a whistle crossing sign, we turned around, went back, stopped near it. and took several pictures before the hawk slowly lifted and flew away — to the classic red and white X of the next railway crossing sign.

It was a dull day and this Rough-Legged Hawk was backlit, so all of these images have been processed to bring out detail and colour.

Rough-Legged Hawk on whistle-crossing sign. © SB

The hawk appeals to the human need
(greed?) for eye contact. © SB

Top markings, in flight. © SB

Under markings, with dark wrists and belly. © SB

Rough-Legged Hawk in flight. © SB

Rough-Legged Hawk
on prairie crossing sign. 
© SB

Close-up of Rough-Legged Hawk
Here's looking at you... © SB

What is this? A Rough-Legged Hawk.    
Location: Along Highway 39, from Moose Jaw to south of Regina, Saskatchewan.  
Photo dates: March 17, 2012. 


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