Raging Raptors!

Sep 28, 2023

Bob Turner, RBP, FBPA

Scripps Research
Encinitas, California, USA

Under a very overcast sky, a Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) is shown soaring above a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) during an intense territorial battle. Both bird of prey species are notoriously protective of their claimed feeding areas, and even more so over a nesting site. This intense dispute was initially provoked by the Red-tailed Hawk which inflicted significant damage to the Northern Harrier's tail feathers (shown). The dramatic encounter lasted less than a minute, including loud cries, fierce talon strikes, and culminated with them flying-off in opposite directions. Later, the Northern Harrier returned to the site and perched on a prominent treetop as the apparent winner!

The image maker, while out searching specifically for Northern Harriers, was very fortunate to come-upon this Northern Harrier fighting with a Red-tailed Hawk. The opportunity to capture this behavior was indeed fortuitous, and was not going to be lost in the moment. This image was shared on The Birds of Prey web site which has an audience of better than 242,333 members. Plus, this sighting was reported to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology via E-Bird.

Nikon D5300 camera and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm 1:5.6E ED lens