A mature Red-tailed Hawk kept many bird photographers entertained last year. He was given the name Co-op because of his willingness to pose at minimum focusing distance. This morning it appeared as if one of his off springs came home to do the same for six of us. I had turned the corner onto a paved road that runs through a conservation area when I saw my brother's car parked on the shoulder in a 'No Parking' zone. Knowing him, he wouldn't be there unless there was good reason. I pulled in behind him and on the opposite side of the road he was raising a lens into a tree and he wasn't alone. Four other photographers were there as well and two had tripods. On a branch some twelve feet off the ground was a first year juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, looking at them just as intently as they were observing him. The youngster stayed there for some twenty minutes before moving to another branch but still within easy reach. A police car passed us and I saw the officer look at the hawk and then continue on his way although we were causing quite a stir for the heavy traffic usually found on that stretch of road. When we both had some fifty shots, Tony and I moved our cars into a near by parking lot for safety.
The other photographers had their fill and also broke off the photo-op.
The juvenile left the tree and flew with us into the parking lot, we had just entered and took up residence in a tree close by. This gave us opportunity #2. When he eventually launched I was too close and the 400mm could only get him partially in the frame, except for one image. The session was over as fast as it started but that experience brought back a lot of pleasant memories of the mature Hawk who had performed so admirably, the year before. These are some of the pictures I walked away with. Though it was an ISO 800 day, the overcast allowed for good light to show detail in the plumage.
3/ The only salvageable in flight.
Not often are Red-tailed Hawks as cooperative as this youngster. It was an incredible opportunity on a very gray morning.