Thursday, February 17, 2011

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk

On some very rare occasions, I run into this leucistic Red-tailed Hawk. He is quite shy, so when I am in his territory, I am always fixing my camera settings for his stark white plumage and crank down the exposure compensation about -2/3's. I saw him in pursuit of a lady, so I stayed in the area just in case he came back. He did, but not very close. I stayed put and watched. He caught some pray, ate it and flew to a new perch but was still not close. I then saw him disappear behind a house, flying really low. I was hoping he landed. He did, he was in a pasture just a few yards from the road. I did a turn-around to put him in view through my drivers-side window and approached, ready to shoot. Now with hawks, you have about 3 seconds before they take flight, and I know this, but it seems every time, I think I can get away with getting a better view and blow the posed shot. I just gained focus when he took off. The last shot featured here is the first shot with him. Oh well, another day my white friend...another day.






Leucism (occasionally spelled leukism) is a general term for the phenotype resulting from defects in pigment cell differentiation and/or migration from the neural crest to skin, hair or feathers during development. This results in either the entire surface (if all pigment cells fail to develop) or patches of body surface (if only a subset are defective) having a lack of cells capable of making pigment.

If you look at the crown/nape of this guys head (best represented in the first photo), you can see a dark pigmented area. Also, there is only 1 tail feather that is red (best represented in the 3rd photo), which is why I know its a red-tailed hawk. I know he is a "he" only because I saw him mating, so it was obvious he was a boy. I have photo'd him for more than 6 years so I fear his life left on earth won't be long, so every opportunity I get, I put in plenty of wait time in the field, because he is definately worth the patience it takes.

You can see other shots I've taken, by checking my labels for "white hawk" found on the right side of the template.

10 comments:

Anni-chan said...

Wow! I have lost the words about these Photos. Really wonderful. Lots greetings from Germany

troutbirder said...

What an unusual sighting. Patience you got to get these!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Amazing bird.What a rare opportunity to capture a bird like this.

Montanagirl said...

He's so beautiful! Amazing photos you have here. Very nice work.

Mom2Twins said...

I'm glad I found your blog... I am in LOVE with your photo's. You are doing exactally what I want to do.

Chris said...

Wow that's indeed very impressive to see white!!! We are time to time getting white morph of gyr falcon over here!

Randy Emmitt said...

Very cool to get such good photos of this one. Enjoyed them very much.

Coy said...

Incredible! Truly a unique bird. From what I found red-tailed hawks can live up to 20 years with an average lifespan of 12-15 do with a little luck you may have him around for a number of years yet.

Willard said...

You are finding so many unique subjects, and you know how to photograph them to best effect.

WPgirl said...

Amazing photos. The power in his body is breath taking.