Before my trip to California’s Central Valley last month I wanted to be sure I could recognize a ferruginous hawk, so I looked for a video of one in flight.
This video from Falconer’s Apprentice Media shows an immature bird in training. Like all light phase ferruginous hawks he is very white underneath. Brown above (immature), he has reddish highlights.
The audio portion explains that ferruginous hawks are hard to work with. This quote from the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program explains why:
“Ferruginous Hawks are mean and wild, and have no qualms whatsoever about defending themselves. When the Humans are taking care of an injured Ferruginous Hawk here at the RMRP, only very experienced catchers take on this bird.
The reason for this intense attitude could stem from where these birds live: on the plains. While nests will be built in trees if they’re available, Ferruginous Hawks usually nest in open areas such as rock outcrops, or simply on the ground. The plains environment just doesn’t provide many protected nesting opportunities. Since nesting sites are so exposed, the birds have to be able to defend themselves not only from aerial predators like most Raptors have to, but also from terrestrial predators like Coyotes. And if the chicks are on the ground for the first month of their lives, you can expect the chicks to be as fierce as the parents.”
Knowing this we can appreciate the commitment, bond, and patience it takes to fly a ferruginous hawk.
p.s. I saw my Life Bird ferruginous hawk at Lassen Road in Tehama County, California. It flew across the road in front of me, a beautiful adult with a white belly, rufous back, and light rufous tail (white underneath). Woo hoo!
(video from Falconry Told on YouTube)