Yellowstone: Hawks

This is part of a series of posts about wildlife we saw in Yellowstone National Park during our June vacation in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

In the Lamar Valley we saw hawks soaring above us. Above is a photo of an adult red-tailed hawk — my best photo of a red-tailed hawk so far. On vacation, I had the camera with telephoto lens in the car. The tail of the adult hawk is orange. btw, all three photos here are 400 mm and cropped so that the birds are larger. You don’t get to choose the altitude that hawks soar at.

We were excited when we saw the below pair of birds soaring in the Lamar Valley — we thought they were adolescent bald eagles. Adolescent bald eagles have brown heads — bald eagle heads don’t turn white until they are about 4-5 years old. Looking at bird photos at our apartment, then we thought that they were golden eagles.

Swainson's hawk
Swainson’s hawk
Swainson's hawk
Swainson’s hawk (click to enlarge)

However, when friends who are birders, saw the photos, they identified the birds as Swainson’s hawks, because of the barred tail in the last photo, with the white leading edge of the wings and the black flight feathers (trailing edge).


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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