Hello everyone! I know it's been a few weeks since I've last posted and I'm so sorry for the delay. Life has been busy! But, I'm here now, so here it goes.
Over the past few months I've spent almost every weekend at the grasslands hoping to photograph short-eared owls, but it wasn't the greatest season for them. We only had roughly 6-8 of them and most evenings they didn't fly until light was gone or if they did fly in the good light, it was often too distant. It was a bit of a bummer, but thankfully we had two other raptors that were super cooperative. One was this gorgeous red-tailed hawk. People believe that the hawk is a female due to her larger size and so somebody named her Mildred. We've calling her Millie for short.
Generally red-tailed hawks are not all that cooperative and will fly off at the first sight of a human. However, Millie was the exact opposite. It almost seemed as if she was fascinated by us because the more photographers around, the more active she would be and the closer she would get to us. As soon as the crowds showed up, so did Millie. She had some favorite spots she liked to perch and hunt from and she basically flew in a loop. It was almost predictable where she would go next. Her flight missions were generally for hunting for voles and she would fly straight towards the photographers and land on the ground in front of everyone. She caught so many voles that half the time she wouldn't even finish them. Sometimes she stayed on the ground to eat them and sometimes she brought them up on a post or onto a tree branch. She gave the photographers plenty of opportunities to photograph her with her prey. I personally had the privilege to photograph her from all angles and in some of them I was able to nicely capture those stunning reddish tail feathers of hers. She was a real treat and kept us all entertained.
Red-tailed hawks are one of the most common hawks to be found in North America and can be found anywhere there is open grassy areas. They thrive in various types of habitat and can be spotted in trees, on poles, electrical wires, in the country, the city, and especially along the highways. Their main food source consists of rodents, small mammals, snakes, small birds and many other small species of animals.
Here is Millie showing off her stunning tail feathers. She's likely the most photograph red-tailed hawk in New York state!