55 Ferruginous Hawk
Photo taken on 20 July 2016 and posted on Flickr on 21 July 2016. Lol, that's exactly what I was thinking, Mike Borle! Thanks so much for giving the ID, way before I started on the description for the day. I was almost 100% sure this was a Ferruginous Hawk - couldn't think what else it could be, yet it seemed just too good to be true : ) According to the 'Birds of Alberta' book by Fisher and Acorn, the Ferruginous Hawk is rare to uncommon, from April to September in Alberta. This individual was standing on a mound high above the side of a main road and I stopped the car and rapidly took three or four shots, hoping that no vehicles would suddenly appear round the bend. About a minute's drive later, I spotted two very distant birds of prey, standing together on top of a huge pile of earth and again stopped long enough to take three or four rapid shots. They, too, looked very white, and I wondered if I had been fortunate enough to see Ferruginous Hawks! When I checked on Google Earth last night, I noticed that there was a very rough track that I could have driven along to get closer - but you just don't do that with Ferruginous Hawks!! Recently, I've been seeing photos from two or three people, showing very close shots of a nest and nestlings of this species - totally against birding ethics for these Hawks! No idea how they got such close captures. Anyway, I feel VERY privileged to have seen these special birds. This is the second day this week that I have been amazingly lucky with bird sightings, the first day being a day out NE of Calgary with my daughter on 18 July. "Found in prairies, deserts, and open range of the West, the regal Ferruginous Hawk hunts from a lone tree, rock outcrop, or from high in the sky. This largest of North American hawks really is regal—its species name is regalis—with a unique gray head, rich, rusty (ferruginous) shoulders and legs, and gleaming white underparts. A rarer dark-morph is reddish-chocolate in color. Ferruginous Hawks eat a diet of small mammals, sometimes standing above prairie dog or ground squirrel burrows to wait for prey to emerge." From AllAboutBirds. www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ferruginous_Hawk/id Later: I eventually left home yesterday at 11:00 am, a good couple of hours later than I had intended. I wasn't sure how long it was going to take me to get to where I wanted to get, so had wanted to allow plenty of hours for this journey. I had been on the road for about three hours by the time I got there, but did stop at various places en route. The first part of my drive was along familiar roads - called in at Frank Lake just to check the gravel road leading to the gate. An Eastern Kingbird was the only species I saw. From there, I kept driving east on h'way 23, stopping briefly to photograph one of my favourite old houses. This highway eventually bends southwards and leads to Vulcan. I had only ever once driven as far as Vulcan, and that was on 30 March 2015. I had to stop again, like last year, and take a few photos of the cluster of old sheds, barn and house, before continuing on my way. From here until I reached my destination, was all new to me. Exciting and anxiety-causing, all at the same time. I drove further east and then turned south and found myself in a different kind of landscape, with a few interesting birds and plants to see and photograph, including a Ferruginous Hawk (three, actually) and wild sunflowers. I was in tall wind turbine country - which told me how far south I had come. The colours of some of the fields were unusual, too. Along one road, I had a Swainson's Hawk who perched nicely on a fence post at first and then circled overhead and followed my vehicle further down the road. Think it may have been a juvenile, screeching for its parents to come and feed it. Also saw a Mourning Dove on a fence post and what I think must have been a juvenile Horned Lark. Actually, there were a lot of Horned Larks yesterday. I tend to forget that we can see them in summer time. After travelling westwards and then north and west again, I found myself back at Frank Lake. It was still daylight, so I decided to try one more time along the gravel road leading to the gate. Here, I had another nice sighting - friend, Debbie : ) Good to see you and have a nice, long chat. A great day with an enjoyable ending.
AlbertaCanadaSE of CalgarySE of Vulcannatureornithologyavianbirdbird of preyraptorhawklargeFerruginous HawkButeo regalisFamily Accipitridaeadultstandingsmall hillfront viewrare to uncommon in Albertaoutdoorsummer20 July 2016FZ200FZ2004annkelliottAnne ElliottAnne Elliott, from