Leaving for home that afternoon, I decided I would swing by that same location — just in the off chance that I might get so lucky again. And as I turned down the two-lane road, my hopes were rewarded. Perched atop a streetlight across the way was the unmistakable outline of a large hawk.
Driving slowly up from behind the dark figure, silhouetted by the late afternoon sun, I first assumed it was one of the hawks I had watched earlier that day. I quickly started looking around for his mate. But as I turned a corner and got a good look at his profile, my mouth fell open in surprise and excitement. It was immediately obvious that this was a different breed altogether!
Considering that only that very morning I'd had my first opportunity ever to photograph a hawk in the "wild," and here I had found my second hawk the very same afternoon... Well, "excitement" doesn't begin to describe my feelings.
But what kind of hawk was this new fellow?
Moving past his manmade perch, I was able to turn around and get some better shots of this beautiful raptor.
The pale reddish streaks on his bib and the barbed streaks on his undersides had me guessing. Wrong coloring for a Swainson's hawk. Wrong shape for a Sharpie. Too big for a Broad-winged Hawk. Hmm... could it be?
After about ten minutes of ignoring my quiet admiration, he suddenly launched from his metal roost and my suspicions were immediately confirmed.
Bingo! Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).
Okay, so it was probably painfully obvious to most from the very first picture. But give me a break — I'm still pretty new at this!