Bird Photography: Red-Tailed Hawk with Prey

| January 20, 2013
bird photography red tailed hawk

A red-tailed hawk launches with prey in talon.

The dramatic side of bird photography

Although I don’t consider this the best technical bird photograph in my portfolio, I certainly think it is my most dramatic to-date. While looking for northern flicker woodpeckers on my property last week, I noticed this red-tailed hawk perched on top of one of our tallest pine trees. Filled with excitement, I grabbed my Canon 5D Mark III and mounted my Canon 300mm f/2.8 II lens along with the Canon 2X III teleconverter. As I slowly made my way out the front door and down the sidewalk, he saw me and decided to launch. With no time to think, I brought my camera up and fired two shots. I had not even set the camera up at that point but luckily I was able to capture the photo above.

A the time that I took the photo, I did not realize that the hawk had fully executed prey in its right talon. Although somewhat gruesome, this photograph reminds me of why I don’t poison voles and other rodents on our rural property. Although, voles are a nuisance and wreak havoc on our landscaping, I can’t imagine tainting this hawk’s food source. If by chance the vole had been dead and poisoned, the hawk would also ingest the poison and who knows what would happen after that.

My lucky camera settings for this photo were: f/5.6, 1/1000th of a second, +1 and third exposure compensation, with image stabilization mode 2 engaged and single point center focus.

I love the challenge of bird photography and every now and this you grab an exciting image. Having captured this one, I am more determined than ever to continue to hone my bird photography skills. I have heard some say that bird photography is 90% frustration and 10% ecstasy. I must say I agree but making photos like this makes the frustration worth it.

 

 

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Category: Bird Photography

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