Red-tailed Hawk Hunting & Catching Prey

While fly fishing I noticed a gorgeous Red-tailed hawk actively patrolling the river, and at one point, it even swooped down and grabbed a great blue heron by the neck.  The heron made a noise that could possibly awaken the dead and rapidly vacated the river. That scene was over before I even considered wading back to shore to grab my camera.  Anyway, on the last afternoon of the trip the hawk suddenly appeared on a branch directly across river, happily eating a large bushy tailed gray squirrel. 

This time I exchanged my fly rod for a camera, quickly popped on my longest lens, a 200mm Nikon Macro, and waded as far across river as possible.  I snapped numerous photos and wished I had longer glass with me, and also wished the hawk would take flight.  My friends seemed certain the hawk was so content with the squirrel that it wouldn't fly for hours, but I continued to stand mid-river, clicking away when all of a sudden, the next thing I saw through the lens was the hawk seemingly flying directly towards me.  It swooped down and passed to my left, dove into the bushes behind me, grabbed a mouse or vole, stood there for a few photos, and flew back to the other side.  I'm not sure if the hawk swallowed the mouse whole, or dropped in on its perch, because it immediately dove down to the ground on the opposite shore, and missed whatever it spotted. 

Gorgeous Red-tailed hawk eating a large gray squirrel up in a tree

Red-tailed hawk feasting on a large gray squirrel


Red-tailed hawk diving towards prey

Suddenly it took flight


Red-tailed hawk flying by in very close proximity

Approached with amazing speed


This hawk swooped by so close it almost startled me

Swooped past me less than 15 feet away


Hawk zeroing in on a mouse scurrying around in the riverside vegetation, my waterproof camera bags are in the background

directly into the riverside vegetation


 Hawk emerging from the dried vegetation catching prey

Red-tailed hawk catching prey, a mouse or vole


What a thrill, having this powerful hawk at such close range, about to fly past me again

Taking flight


Hawk flying back across the river with a snack

Heading back across the river with its prey


Redtailed hawk in flight heading back across the river

This encounter was so close my 200mm macro lens cut off the wing tips

I could hear and feel the wind beneath its wings


This beautiful hawk was so close I could hear and feel the wind beneath its wings

Beautiful fall foliage reflection upon the water


hawk soaring upwards towards its perch

Back on the other side of the river


Majestic hawk sitting on its perch

I waded further across river for a final photo


I don't know if the hawk swallowed the mouse whole, or left in up on the perch, because it immediately dove to the ground chasing something else

He spotted more prey!


hawk diving to the ground to see what was rustling in the fallen leaves

Back in action


Zeroing in on its target

Zeroing in on its target

I think this photo almost looks fake, but it is real


Red-tailed hawk standing on the ground

He missed whatever was rustling in the fallen leaves


Hawk flying skywards

Heading skywards

Perhaps we'll meet again

go to Fly Fishing Photography from this trip
GO TO Bird Photography Home Page

yellow blue line

^ back to top ^

Please note: All content (including source) on this site are protected by copyright.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.