One early morning, not too long ago, while watching the stock-market do its morning dance from my bedroom in the Wind River Canyon, I spotted a raptor arced in-flight. The white from under its large wings easily visible against the dark-green pines. As the hawk curled its flight pattern it landed on a man-made perch; an electric pole. He was at least a quarter of a mile away from my cabin.
When you live in the mountains it's best to keep a pair of binoculars near every window, and I grabbed the ancient-monster pair of 10 by 50's on the speaker. He was a long way away, but it was definitely not a Red-tailed Hawk; this one seemed bigger. I didn't recognize the species of this raptor, but it was now hunting in our stretch of the canyon.
Over the next week I spotted this raptor several times a day here in the Wind River Canyon, but seldom did it come hunting close enough for my meager lens. At the moment I'm still shopping for an affordable lens with a long reach, so I loaded up the best thing I have available; an L-series 70-200mm Canon with a 1.4 III extender. It doesn't have the reach but it does have great sharpness....it'll have to do I told myself.
I had a handful of photographic opportunities over the week of it's presence here, but identifying the species of this hawk turned out to be as difficult as photographing him. I had several great shots in which to i.d. this raptor; it was a late-stage juvenile, Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus). This particular image is one that illustrates how raptors have adapted. It's more interesting than the usual in-flight photo, which I also took during his time here in the canyon. This is a large bird with a wingspan over 4 and a half feet! It seemingly hovers when hunting the voles that live all through the canyon. This hawk showed almost as much patience hunting for his food as I did hunting for a picture.
About a week of observing this raptor hunting our area of the Wind River Canyon and I noted one afternoon this hawk had moved on. No raptor has ever stayed and hunted this stretch of the canyon for very long; it's not for lack of small game, that's for sure! It seems to me that if you can fly on such wings, you should travel far.
As a side-note....early this week, from this same window, I watched a female Bighorn Sheep moseying down the Wind River, eating and drinking along her way as she moved north in the Wind River Canyon.
Thank you for your valuable time.