It was just after Christmas Day when I took the day off and drove 3 1/2 hours to the central part of the state to look for raptors. While there’s always a nice variety of raptors in the area, Rough-legged hawks are by far the most common. Just about all my Rough-legged hawk photos are from the Fort Pierre National Grasslands, or near the I-90 corridor by Presho and Kennebec. Around Sioux Falls and Brandon where I live, you do see them on occasion, but they’re not common by any means.
This weekend I went out for a bit, just around home. It was just a hop, skip, and a jump from our house when I ran into this gorgeous Rough-legged Hawk, just chillin’ in a cedar tree. My success with photographing Rough-legged Hawks in the central part of the state has just as much to do with sheer numbers of birds as it does with how cooperative they typically are for photos. Most flush when you approach. This guy not only stayed still for photos, but given how relaxed he was, I thought I’d do something I rarely do, and take some video as well.
It’s easy to take the common birds for granted, and I’ve certainly seen more than my share of Rough-legged Hawks over the years. They truly are gorgeous birds though, and it was wonderful to see such a beautiful bird right near our house. I’m glad this one gave me the opportunity to watch (and film) it for a good long time.