A Much Needed Rough-legged Hawk

After being sequestered in the apartment for a few days, I really needed to get out. I'm mostly better and have that whole throaty voice thing going on (which I would use on Non Birding Bill if it wouldn't keep getting ruined by fits of a doctor would call a "productive cough"--ick.) But it was so nice out and I needed some fresh air. I got on the highway and thought about stopping at a local nature center and began having second thoughts--moving around, I realized I was still fighting the virus and probably shouldn't be standing outside just yet. But then I saw it...

I was passing the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport and noticed two raptors flying. One was a red-tail, the other was a little different--it was a rough-legged. I found an exit on the highway to turn around and make my way towards Cargo Rd (where the snowy owl is usually observed) and just as I passed beneath the birds, the rough-legged did hard dive onto the red-tail. Even though the red-tail was slightly larger, it booked out of there. By the time I was off the highway and on to Cargo Rd, the rough-legged had landed and was sitting on a hangar.

I pulled over on a side street leading to a hangar where the hawk was perched. I wasn't sure if this was an area where people are allowed to pull over--it was far away from fences, not planes were in direct site and there was plenty of space coming and going for approaching traffic to see me. I decided to try and digiscope it. These really are beautiful hawks and I'm so glad that I took a moment to watch it in the scope. Check out in the above photo how the hawk is looking directly at me. Now here is a photo of the hawk without the spotting scope:

That teeny tiny dark spot on the top of the hangar is the hawk--quite a testament to that amazing raptor eyesight! After five minutes, I decided not to push my luck with airport security and get moving. Turned around and headed over to Cargo Rd and the rough-legged hawk took flight.

Then it landed on a light post above my car and I took a quick photo through my windshield. I'm not sure how long it will stick around. There've been rough-legs all over the Twin Cities this winter but I never seem to see them in the same place twice, they're constantly on the move.

If you need a bird fix, check out Liz Stanley's photos from Sax Zim Bog. She may not have seen a wolf, but she did get some photos of a pine marten when she was watching one of the deer carcasses--sweet!

UPDATE: Chad Gustafson got some photos of the same rough-legged hawk south of the airport, check out his photos (Big Brother Hawk is watching you...).