Leonard and I saw a ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) swoop down into a snowy overgrown field while driving near our home (Lookout CA). When it did not immediately take flight again, I decided the hawk must have caught its prey. Leonard has become expert at screeching to a stop and getting off of the road when I notice an interesting photo op – such a patient, long-suffering husband. (Of course it helps that in our rural area there is almost never another vehicle anywhere near.) I ran to where the hawk landed and indeed it had a vole. The hawk flew to a fencepost and glared at me. He was close enough for some decent pictures so I did not approach any further and let him eat.
As I mentioned in two previous posts about ferruginous hawks (August 2011 and December 2011), they, along with rough-legged hawks, are the only local hawk species that have “pantaloons” or feathers covering their legs down to the toes. These leg feathers are easily seen in the photographs. Ferruginous hawks also have a large yellow gape (fleshy edges of the mouth visible on the sides of the head), black bill and yellow cere (bare patch of skin over part of the upper mandible), all of which are visible in the pictures.
The large ferruginous hawk (females are larger than males) is my favorite neighborhood buteo.