Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ferruginous Hawk

Standing like sentries on guard duty, hawks stared down on us from utility poles as we passed through Kansas.

Most were Ferruginous Hawks, with Red-tailed Hawks making up the rest. While not expecting an honor guard of hawks to greet us as we passed through the Great Plains, I was pleased to see each and every one of them standing at attention…really quite impressive.  I reviewed them as carefully as I could at 60MPH.   
I rode from Wisconsin with my brother, Kenn and his wife Linda M. in their 5th wheel camper. They were on their return trip to Arizona.  I was behind the wheel on this section of straight arrow, US 81, which divides Kansas into two equal parts…east and west. 

Kansas is flat…trees are rare.  With few trees, the utility poles made good perches for America’s largest hawk. Hawks scanned the countryside at regular intervals every few miles.  With little hope of not being seen by one, my only chance for a picture of one was to be accepted by one…they were having no part of it.

This is a Red-tailed Hawk

I stopped the truck whenever I thought a hawk would allow me a picture…I was wrong more often than right.  Seeing me outside the truck would immediately scared him off his high voltage perch. 

He’d accept hundreds of cars passing below him daily, but would get very suspicious when a vehicle stopped.  To date, I only have these few pictures of Ferruginous Hawks, out of the dozens I saw.  These pictures are not all from Kansas either.

This Ferruginous Hawk just outside of Dodge City, Kansas was the most accommodating.  He still flew away when he saw me, but he didn’t go far. He screamed and stretched and rearranged his feathers, then circled above me until he too had enough and flew away.  

Weariness of people has served the Ferruginous Hawk well. Neither ‘endangered’ nor ‘threatened’ the Ferruginous Hawk is common in Kansas…common and cautious.  I have many mental images of them standing at attention on utility poles, but few pictures. 

He’s such a beautiful bird; I just wish he wasn’t so shy.