A Grounded Red-Tailed Hawk

Normally I don’t get to photograph red tailed hawks very often. In fact, I can only remember a couple of times I have even gotten a decent image of a red tailed hawk. They are camera shy as most raptors seem to be.

red tailed hawk
A close-up head study of a red tailed hawk.

The other day, however, I came across one sitting in a cut corn field which allowed me to get a couple extremely close images of it. It didn’t appeared to be hurt or sick at all as it just sat there and allowed me a rare close-up glimpse of this magnificent bird.

red-tailed hawk
This red tailed hawk gave me unprecedented access to photograph it while sitting on the ground in a cut corn field.

I photographed it with my 600mm lens which allowed me to get a few very close-up head shots of the hawk as well as some great full body images.

red-tailed hawk
A red tailed hawk showing an external eye covering of some kind.

While inspecting and editing the images I noticed on the full body photos the hawks eyes were covered with a external layer covering the eye. I am not fully sure what it does but I assume it helps protect the hawks eye from dirt and debris.

My first instinct while photographing this bird was it was on prey but as I turned my truck around after I initially saw it on the ground and approached it I noticed it wasn’t on any downed prey at all. It just seemed to be content sitting in the field.

It was extremely close to a busy road so my next thought was it got injured from possibly getting hit by a vehicle but it showed no physical signs of injury. I watched it from a close proximity from inside my truck as I took several photographs of the raptor but it showed no signs of anything wrong with it. It did look pretty small and a bit young for a red tail hawk so I assumed it was a juvenile but even juveniles never allow such close contact with humans.

I went back later to see if it was still there and it was gone so I assume it finally flew off. I am quite puzzled at the mystery surrounding why it allowed me to get so close to photograph it but I am glad it did because I got a rare glimpse of this beautiful raptor up close and personal for a few moments.