This Red-tailed Hawk is a great example of their variability. It had such warm and mixed up plumage and a heavily banded, short-ish tail, made even better by the setting sunlight. Photographed along the Great Highway, Ocean Beach, SF.
One of my favorite places to go when I need a raptor fix is along Great Highway near Ocean Beach. This is as reliable a spot as you’ll find in San Francsico for finding a perched bird of prey. If you are patient, or lucky enough to find one actively hunting, you might get a chance to see how it makes a living.
Posture means a lot when it comes to determining raptorial intent. If you see a bird preening, sitting straight up, one leg folded into its feathers, there is a good chance you will be waiting awhile. This Redtail was alert, head up, leaning forward, looking around frequently, and moving its feet. These were all very good signs it was on the hunt.
A Raven mobs an adult Red-tailed Hawk near Ocean Beach. This Redtail seemed to have plenty of experience with aggressive Ravens and it shrugged off the challenges with aplomb. Considering the size and intelligence of Ravens, standing up to them is no small feat.