Northern Harriers

As I work on bird in flight photography, I am having a bit of a love affair with Northern Harriers. They are as hawks go, fairly accommodating for the photographer. Their habit of gliding low to the ground over marsh land makes them much easier to photograph than say a high flying Red-tailed hawk.

I discovered that the Swan Lake nature study/refuge area north of town is a favorite haunt of these birds. The refuge is just under 2000 acres and surrounded by warehouses and neighborhoods. They built a long dock-walkway out into the middle of the marsh and standing on this puts you right in the middle of the action for Harriers as they hunt.

Northern Harriers are easy to identify. They have an owl shaped face. This shape helps funnel the noises of voles and mice to them which are their principal prey. The females are brown in color and the males are grey to white.

There are quite a few of these hawks frequenting the swamp. I hope the action continues through the year. They are fun to practice flight photography on and beautiful to watch.

34 thoughts on “Northern Harriers

  1. Wow!! Amazing in-flight photos, Alison. So far I haven’t had the opportunity to photographs these beautiful raptors very close. Most of the time I have seen them here they have been almost out of range for me. But someday…… πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Bob. I am having loads of fun working on BIF photography. The 7dMII is an amazing tool for this. Using the 100-400 II with it and it is a dream combo. Very fast. I may stop lusting after the 300mm f/2.8 πŸ˜‰ Thanks as always for stopping in and for the kind words. I wish you luck with getting close.

  2. The last two photos are superb. The lighting is just right, especially as it filters through the feathers, and the angles show all the special characteristics of this bird. Nice work!!

  3. Great shots. I love that lighting! Where is Swan Lake? We are going to be heading up towards the Reno area soon I think, and would to visit it.

  4. These are so cool! Your pictures seriously deserve their own art exhibit at the art museum. Don’t they have a yearly “feature a local artist” thing? If so, I hope that you will enter your work.

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