Chance Encounter


In late winter a friend, follower and enthusiastic supporter of my Snowy Owl adventures asked if I had any good prints of Red-tailed Hawks in flight. Even though this species might be the most common and best known hawk in North America, the answer was no. But, I welcomed the challenge and said I’d keep my eyes open. A few weeks later, while searching for wildflowers in a farm woodlot in late May, a chance encounter allowed me to fulfill my promise. An irate Red-tailed Hawk suddenly appeared overhead, flying in tight circles around me at treetop level and screeching loudly. I had accidentally walked to within 30 meters of its nest.. The pile of sticks was lodged high in the crown of a mature Sugar Maple tree near the edge of the woodlot, still visible from the ground because the foliage was not fully developed. I changed lenses in world-record speed, snapped a few shots, and left in a defensive posture, with my tail between my legs!


Red-tails are Buteos, broad-winged hawks that typically soar high, in large circles, scanning open areas for prey. Utility poles, posts and trees along the edges of woodlots are common perching locations.



Active farms with a mix of fields and adjacent woodlots provide ideal habitat and account for the abundance and frequent sightings of Red-tailed Hawks in central New York. I’m really looking forward to many more close encounters with this beautiful bird of prey!.


Photos by NB Hunter. ©  All Rights Reserved.


9 thoughts on “Chance Encounter

  1. That’s a stunning set Nick, shot 2 and 3 are amazing … and totally agree with your defensive posture of tail between your legs and legging it … I would have done the same 🙂

  2. As that friend I must say they are just wonderfully beautiful photos Nick and thank you!!! I also love the fact that I put the question to you, “Do you have red-tailed hawks pictures”?, and not long after the universe delivered! Synchronicity!

  3. Hi Nick, great shots. What a wonderful encounter you had. The hawk did not know it, but it became famous out here on the web. One circled me and I did a post, but I never thought to look for the nest. Now I will if it ever happens again. I thought a mouse was at my feet. I got that look down stare as well.

  4. Truly wonderful photos!!!!!!!!! It reminded me of one time we were at the “Grand Canyon of NYState” and John had the opportunity to shoot down on a red tailed hawk….that only happened once! Keep up the good work! Linda

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