How to Photograph Sharp-Shinned Hawks

   If you have been visitng my website for a while (about two years), then perhaps you may remember the story about the Cooper's Hawk that crashed into my window and knocked itself out. Well, nearly the exact same thing happened yesterday. Only a few details were changed, but almost exactly two years later here I am to relate the story much as I did when it first happened in 2013.

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This Sharp-Shinned Hawk crashed into my window

   I was sitting in the kitchen when I heard a very loud bang, which sounded like it was coming from the front glass storm door. As quickly as I could, I sped to the front of the house to see what it was. The instant I heard the sound I immediately thought of the Cooper's Hawk from two years earlier. Never before had I heard such a loud bang on a window (whereas the small muted thump of some small unfortunate songbird heavily laden with seed from my feeders is almost an everyday occurance during the winter at my place), and the same loud bang made me suspect nothing other than another hawk collision. Of course, I was right.

   I whipped back the drapes and peeked out the window. There sprawled on the ground was the hawk, lying on it's belly with it's wings outstretched. What did I do? I ran to retreive my camera. I bolted down the stairs and out the door, snapping the first photograph within seconds. I have become accustomed to turning on the camera and having it ready to photograph almost instantly upon having it my hands, often preparing it as I run to the location where my subject is (or in this case, lies). When birding, many unexpected situations arise with little to no warning, and having the camera ready in a split second is crucial. Unfortunately in my haste, the first photo was extremely blurry, so I was compelled to delete it. Never fear. I have many others that are quite clear.

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Sharp-Shinned Hawk

   To make a (somewhat) long story short, I continued to photograph the bird until it flew away. Indeed, I even photographed it after it had flown away, as you will presently see. The bird seemed mostly unconcerned by my presence, but it did get jumpy if I would move quickly. In a few short minutes it hopped up onto the porch, where it sat for an estimated 3.29 seconds. It then flew to a large maple tree, where I persued it to get a photograph of it in a more 'natural' setting than on the ground, half knocked out. The image below resulted. 

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Sharp-Shinned Hawk

   On looking back, I got some good shots. But then again, it is slightly sad that it takes a hawk knocking itself out (or nearly so) on my doorstep for me to get a good photograph of it. But hey, as long as nobody asks how I got the photographs, I should be good. And that's how you photograph Sharp-Shinned Hawks, folks.