Sunday, January 12, 2014

Zone-tailed Hawk close-up photos


Yesterday I spotted a Zone-tailed Hawk perched at mid-day in the thicket at Frontera Audubon in Weslaco, TX. I did not get a usable photo as the hawk flushed right after I got a reasonable look at it. So when I returned at dusk to see if this hawk would return to roost I tried to be even more careful as I try hard to avoid flushing perching hawks and especially if they are likely going to roost. I didn't find it at Frontera but in the area. Darn this is a spooky bird--with a split second after I spotted it, this hawk spotted me and flushed again. Arggh.

Today I returned to the area around Frontera Audubon and again spotted a Zone-tailed Hawk perched. This time I was even more stealth and managed to get all of these photos and got to watch it for about 15 minutes. It really watched what was happening around it, looking around and up in the air repeatedly. Right after a vulture flew in close to it the Zone-tailed Hawk flew off, whether or not bothered by the close fly by or if it was ready to go back to hunting.
The close-ups shows the features of this species with blackish plumage that is right out of Brian Wheeler's Raptors of Western North America:
  •  "Black bill with small, pale bluish area on the basal part of both mandibles. Bright yellow cere. White lores and forehead. [Wheeler's bolding]  Dark brown irises." (p. 308)

I focused on the tail and feet in the next two photos. One broad white band at mid-tail shows best in the less enlarged photo right below-a distinctive field mark on a closed black tail for an adult bird. I thought the size of the toes and claws were pretty good sized

This lower body view also shows the long primaries that on an adult Zone-tailed Hawk extend beyond the tip of the tail when perched.

I was about 150 feet away from this hawk but I used a very long telephoto lens (1200 mm equivalent) then enlarged the photos additionally by cropping them severely to get these close-up views. FYI, I also found and photographed Zone-tailed Hawks, both adult and juvenile, in Hildado and Cameron counties of Texas last year, in Arizona and New Mexico this fall. SeEtta

Jan 13 addendum:

I had to do a lot of editing to get these added bottom photos to show the tail banding that, with the 5 fingers on the wings, the long yellow legs and the hawk type bill shown in these photos, these are of the Zone-tailed Hawk in flight. I have had difficulty in the past trying to get identifying field marks to show when photographing these hawks flying any distance away as this one was. After this hawk took off from it's perch I drove around some to try to refind it in the air and I did as it flew in large circles (this was more than 7 minutes after took off per my camera's date stamp on photos) . SeEtta