Hawk Eating Squirrel

Hawk Eating Squirrel

Now this is just great.  The activity that needs no introduction, no explanation, and no excuses for being boring: A hawk tearing into a squirrel.

Yea boy, start with the entrails, work your way up the internal organs and then chew on the muscles.  Need some roughage?  Try the fur.

A photographer’s real challenge

You may think getting these photos require sharp technical knowledge or a deep understanding of animal behavior, but this is not always so.  Sometimes, like in this picture series, the biggest hurdle to getting the shot is just keeping yourself from barfing all over your mega-dollar equipment.  Stomach spasms can interfere with your timing and even the technical wizardry of image stabilized lenses cannot overcome the violent body lurching associated with your diaphragm trying to launch your taco and rice across the room.  No, photography is way more than the combination of art and science; it is a real he-man’s hobby.

Carnage in your own yard!

I can’t believe what crazy animal stuff I see in my own yard and I live only a few miles from the Philadelphia city line in a very populated area.  I have seen hawks take squirrels and doves but never had my camera around.  The hawks will usually fly away with their dinner as if my property is some fast food drive through but this guy stayed around to enjoy a warm meal.

I have been seeing an increasing number of hawks around lately.  I suspect the word is getting out (via tweets?) that we have some of the plumpest, tastiest, just-gotta-sink-your-talons-into squirrels, chipmunks, and doves around.  We have a big bird feeder that provides more seed than any bird or rodent can eat and it shows.  Our birds and rodents are so fat, I had to install cardiac arrest units around my property.  I now put Lipitor in the seed to keep the ASPCA and Mayor Bloomberg away.

Red Tailed Hawk (I think)

I sent these pictures to our local ornithological club for identification and they think it is a juvenile red tailed hawk.  Juveniles can be very difficult to identify.

Poor Picture Quality

Sorry for the lousy photo quality but I shot these from a distance and through a very dirty, cloudy window.  I was afraid to go outside and scare the bird away.  The lighting was very poor so I set the ISO to 800 to get more shutter speed (higher than this really degrades picture quality for me), f/5 to give me just enough depth of field to get the front and back of the bird into focus.  In better light, this is a fast setup but because of the low light, the camera calculated slow shutter speeds of around 1/20.  Since the bird does not like to sit still and pose especially at my low pay rate, the pictures are not sharp.  I should have increased the ISO to 1600 or even higher to improve sharpness (the camera would now calculate a faster shutter with a higher ISO) and deal with the increased ISO noise in software.

I really blew it with these pictures; they could have been great.

The Equipment:

  • Canon 5D Mk II
  • Canon 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS II
  • Manfrotto 190 CXPRO4 tripod
  • Manfrotto 222 pistola head
  • Emetrol

Location Types: Backyard. Galleries: Birds and Hawk. Tags: 5D Mk II, 70-200mm 2.8, and Manfrotto Tripod & Head.

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