Bird #459 — Ferruginous Hawk

buteo (hawk) regalis (regal, king)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Badlands National Park, South Dakota — Sage Creek Road

My wife and I were driving the roads through the park, seeing what there was to see. I knew the Ferruginous Hawk was a possibility on this trip, so I had half an eye open for it. We stopped at Roberts prairie dog town (named, I think, for a family that used to ranch in the area) and I walked out into the field to see if I could get a photo of the Red Chair with prairie dogs.

A large hawk suddenly appeared off to the west, flying low. It was about 100 yards off, but I could see it well enough to get excited. I didn’t have my binoculars — they were in their case in my briefcase in the closed trunk of my car 30 feet behind me. I zoomed my camera all the way and took picture after picture as it quartered over the prairie dog town. Ferruginous Hawks eat prairie dogs, so I’m sure it was hunting.

The hawk wasn’t as close to the prairie dog as this photo makes it look. If you click on the two photos after this one, you can compare the size of the bird to the size of the prairie dogs nearby.

Even from a distance through the viewfinder of my camera, I could tell it was a very pretty bird. Too bad it got saddled with a clunky name. “Ferruginous” means “reddish brown, rust-colored.”

OK, I know this next shot isn’t impressive on any level. But it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten the Red Chair into a photograph with a lifer (however distant and unidentifiable).

After I took that shot, I ran for the car to get my binoculars, but I couldn’t find the hawk again.

This entry was posted in Birds, Red Chair. Bookmark the permalink.