Winter Raptors


We have a fairly wide variety of hawks, eagles, and falcons in the Texas Panhandle.  Golden Eagles, American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks are year-round residents.  I see kestrels and red-tailed hawks all the time and have several good photos of each (check out the gallery) but I’ve only seen Golden Eagles once and didn’t get a usable photo of them.  I have seen Swainson’s Hawks in the fields north and south of the Canadian River breaks and I enjoy watching the Mississippi Kites and Turkey Vultures that spend the summer here.  Merlins, and Peregrin and Prairie Falcons fly through here during migrations according to the guides, but the Merlin is the only one I’ve seen or photographed.  Broad-winged Hawks and Osprey also migrate through.

Winter is the best for raptors, though.  In the winter we have Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, and Rough-legged Hawks.  I’ve photographed them all, except for the Cooper’s–still haven’seen one of them.  Today I added the Rough-legged Hawk to my life list.  I took a drive north to Hansford County this morning; there’s a small lake up there and a lot of fallow farmland and winter wheat fields and I nearly always see lots of hawks hunting rodents in the fields and Bald Eagles fishing the lake.

This Ferruginous Hawk was scanning a field from atop a power pole.



I could hear Horned Larks in the milo stubble but I had to sit a long time to get this photo-they blend in the background so well that I have wait until they move to find them, and even then, I lose them before I can get the camera in focus.  So it’s not a raptor; sue me.

horned-lark-8-1024x721I took this picture of a Juvenile Bald Eagle as he caught a small fish.  Unfortunately he was between me and the sun, so it’s not a great shot.bald-eagle-397-1024x657


I saw this Rough-legged Hawk circling over a field as I drove back from the lake.  He’s a new one for me.rough-legged-hawk-3-1024x717

There were lots of waterfowl at the little lake Mallards and Northern Pintails, mostly, but also a few Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes and Ring-necked Ducks.  I’ve really had a hard time getting any good photos of waterfowl this year.  Part of the reason, I think, is that the waterfowl aren’t using the ponds at Spring Canyon this year.  Last year there was almost always something swimming and feeding in the ponds, but I rarely see anything there this year.  That’s a shame–it’s a great place to take pictures.  I did get a shot of an American Coot there earlier in the week.american-coot-4-1024x684

I saw another Bald Eagle at Sanford Dam the same day.



3 thoughts on “Winter Raptors

    • We don’t ave the Bald Eagles like we did last year. Most I’ve seen at any one time is 4. Last winter there was over 20. I’ve been seeing lots of Norhtern Harriers and ed-tailed Hawks, though, and a few that I missed last year, like the Rough-legged and Sharp-shinned Hawks. My favorite so far this year has been the little Merlin, although he was actually here in late summer, pretty early for a Merlin.


  1. Pingback: Fields and Playas | Photoavian

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