Black and white photo of a hawk leaning forward on a streetlamp. Own work 2023.


Three days of hawk spotting, and a bonus coyote

by AK Krajewska

On three consecutive days I visited Angel Island, Twin Peaks, and Bernal Hill and managed to spot and photograph some hawks in each location. Hawks look most magnificent in flight, but alas, that's also when they are hardest to photograph, because they are either very far away or flying by very quickly. It's good the look pretty cool perching as well, and often stay put for quite a while.

I'm not great at telling apart red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks. It doesn't help that their plumage varies so much by individual and varies even more for juveniles. Nonetheless I'm pretty sure all of these are either red-shoulder or red-tailed hawks. If you can tell which is which from the photos, let me know and I'll add better captions.

Angel Island #

I took these photos on December 30, 2023.

Hawk perched on a dry tree looks over its shoulders.

A hawk perched on a dead tree looks over its shoulder.

A hawk sitting on a flagpole against a background of trees

This is kind of a goofy expression on this lovely hawk, and I can't tell why it's holding its wings in such a floppy position, but look at that magnificent breast plumage.

A hawk sitting on a flagpole looking over its shoulder.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is probably a red-tailed hawk. I mean, look at that red tail!

Twin Peaks #

I took these photos on December 31, 2023.

Hawk standing on a street light and looking forward

Look how majestic and beautiful I am! So important that someone put rings on me.

Hawk standing on a street light and looking over its shoulder

Do I even deign to look at you, mere mortals?

Hawk standing on a street light and leaning forward aggressively

Lol, just kidding, I am a big goofball getting ready to do a big swoop.

Soon after I took this photo the hawk flew directly into the hillside, presumably trying to catch some kind of small ground animal. Except the way these guys hunt looks like they're awkwardly crashing into the chaparral. The hawk was so into tracking its prey it didn't even notice a dog (luckily on leash) coming up the hillside. The dog was pretty startled and so was the hawk, which then flew off to another perch like nothing had happened.

Hawk with a fluffy head and dainty claws

This hawks is very different from the other one that day. I could only get it from an awkward angle, so you can't quite see the details of the feet, but they're noticeably more delicate. The bill also looks more skinny and pointy. And finally, it's a rather different color and rather fluffy. I wonder if it might be a juvenile.

Bernal Hill flyby #

These photos are from January 1, 2024.

A hawk in flight against a blue sky

It's hard to photograph hawks in flight, but Paul managed to get this photo on our walk around Bernal Hill on January 1st.

A hawk in flight looking rather chunky and solid.

Damn, this hawk is a chunk. In its defense, it was a chilly day so maybe it was fluffing itself up like smaller birds do. Paul also took this photo.

Bonus coyote, Angel Island again #

Coyote walking down a path

Look, a coyote! I said as Paul tried to photograph a bird with my zoomy camera. He then took this excellent photo of a coyote.