It’s Sunday afternoon. You realize it’s been a week and a half since your last natural history blog post. You don’t feel like going on a long expedition. What do you do?
Luckily, I live somewhere where I can grab my camera and long lens, pick a direction, drive for ten minutes, and find a subject for a blog post on the side of the highway.
As is the case throughout most of North America, our most common roadside hawks here are Red-tails. This one, though, is something different. It’s not a species I see very often but I’m ninety-five percent sure this is a Ferruginous Hawk, specifically a light-morph juvenile. The pale unmarked underside and face and the feathered legs set it apart from the Red-tail, Swainson’s, and other buteos we might expect to see here. I was first introduced to this hawk, a classic grassland species, four years ago during the summer I spent on the Saskatchewan prairie.
After humoring me for a minute while I snapped photos through the passenger window of my car, it took off into the evening. This was a new one for my year list – I’m sure I’ve passed Ferruginous Hawks while driving around here before, but this was the first time I stopped and looked closely enough to make the ID.