The Travels of Tug 44

Rough-Legged Hawk

The Rough-Legged Hawk, also known as the Rough-Legged Falcon, is an arctic bird. They breed in far northern Canada, but they winter farther south in the USA, including here in Fort Edward. They look and act a lot like the Red-Tailed Hawk and eat mice and small critters, but they are able to hover in one spot while beating their wings quickly, much like the Northern Harrier. The "rough legged" part of their name comes from the feathers on their legs, typical of arctic birds.   high-res

The Rough-Legged Hawk launches into the air, endlessly searching for mice in the hayfields.   high-res

Got this and the next shot on Xmas Day 2016, and thought I was photographing a different kind of Hawk. Later when I got it home and on the big screen, I realized the dark underside was actual color and not just shade ... so this is definitely another Rough-Legged Hawk.   high-res

He gives me one long stare, and then he's off.   high-res

Rough-Legged Hawks are beautiful in flight. They are instantly recognizeable by the large black spot on each wing.   high-res

December 2016 - Spotted this Rough-Legged Hawk sitting on a pole. He's looking all around, hunting for mice.   high-res

He doesn't stick around long, and off he goes ...   high-res

... and lands on a more distant fence post. And then again he takes off, blasting the snow off the top of the post.   high-res

January 2017, I spotted this Rough-Legged Hawk sitting in a hay field.   high-res

Then he turns toward me to prove he is a Rough-Legged Hawk. Notice the black "apron" on his lower belly.   high-res

February 2017, this Rough-Legged Hawk was flying into a wind at the exact speed of that wind, so he was hovering ... right in front of me. This allowed me to get numerous good shots as he hunted.   high-res

November 2018, I spotted this Adult Rough-Legged Hawk hovering over a distant (over 300 yards) hay field. At age 2-3 years, these Hawks lose their black apron marking and it changes to bars (horizontal stripes). All the photos above this one are juveniles, that tells me there must be a very high mortality rate before they achieve adulthood. This is the only adult I have seen.   high-res

The Rough-Legged Hawk, one of Nature's marvels.

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