What The Birds Taught Me

The Ferruginous Hawk

This largest of the American hawks (wingspan 4-5 feet) doesn’t hang out down South in my neck of the woods. Thus it is a special treat when exploring the West or the Desert Southwest, like I did this past month of December, to encounter one of these stunning creatures.

Ferruginous‘ is from the Latin ferrum, meaning iron, and refers to the iron-rust color of their wings and legs.

ferruginous hawk

The Ferruginous Hawk, along with the Rough-legged Hawk and the Golden Eagle, are the only American hawks to have legs feathered all the way to the feet.

ferruginous hawkferruginous hawk

The Ferruginous Hawk is also the plumpest of the hawks, with an appetite to match. Their favorite snack is the prairie dog.  Often they will gather at prairie dog towns and wait for a meal to pop up.

ferruginous hawk

ferruginous hawkferruginous hawk

This hawk has also been known as the Eagle Hawk, Gopher Hawk, Ferruginous Rough-legged Hawk, and Squirrel Hawk.

And what nugget of wisdom, pray tell, did I learn from my fine feathered friends on my recent trip West?

ferruginous hawk

The birds taught me that I knew nothing, nothing at all.

– Jim Harrison

ferruginous hawk

🙂 🙂 🙂

10 Replies to “What The Birds Taught Me”

  1. Whenever I encounter a hawk, Bald Eagle or Osprey “up close and personal,” (In Lake County, FL we have lots of opportunities to do that,) I realize how limited we are as participants in Mother Nature’s realm. Sure, we have opposable thumbs and the power to destroy everything we choose, but the real power is to understand and realize where we “fit” in the grand scheme and to just quietly and simply “do our jobs.” Do you think we’ll ever learn our roles in this life? I don’t think I’ve ever met a group or a single dysfunctional Raptor. Great shots, Ooops … but you sell yourself short … you know more than nothing even though you do not know it all. Keep ’em coming!


    1. Thanks, Richard. You have just given me my year 2013 quest: to find a ‘dysfunctional raptor’! 🙂


  2. For starters, you learned it was a brilliant idea to study these magnificent birds. Second, you learned it was equally brilliant to show everyone else what we may have been missing, out of the thrill they provide. It’s their look, I think, that deeply wise presence of lives that are so alert, so in touch with every part of themselves, inside and outside world, fine achievement indeed. And like all good observing leads the observer to understand how to grasp and incorporate what’s being observed. Which you do know.


    1. You paint and write, Barbara; I take pictures. What a privilege it is, in our own respective ways, to bear witness to the world we live in!


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