|Rough-legged Hawk in Davis County, UT USA|
Back in 2009 I was on a date with my wife. No it hasn't been that long since we dated. We were on the waiting list at a restaurant and decided to kill some time by checking out the Barnes & Noble Bookstore across the parking lot from the restaurant. For some reason, a childhood interest in birds bubbled up and led me over to field guides for birds. I decided to purchase one of the guides that night because I found the diversity of the birds fascinating and I wanted to study them further. When my married daughter saw the field guide on my desk at home she asked about it and made a mental note that led her to purchase some inexpensive binoculars for my birthday. One thing led to another and I found myself becoming a "birder".
After about one year of delving into "birding" I wanted to learn more about hawks. I had become familiar with a local club called Utah County Birders and asked one of their members who might help me learn more about hawks. I was told to consider some guy named Jerry who was supposed to be a raptor expert. Jerry was posting occasional emails to a Utah birding listserv and I noticed he did seem to know a bit about raptors when I read his emails. Like countless other newbie birders I sent Jerry a photo of one of the most common hawks in North America and asked for his help. I look at that situation now and realize how little I knew at the time. Jerry responded with the ID for the hawk and shared the important field marks for identifying it as a juvenile light-morph Red-tailed Hawk.
The simple Red-tailed Hawk question I had led to other questions. When I found myself perplexed by trying to decide whether I'd seen and photographed a Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk I sent off an email to Jerry. I got a response with some tips on distinguishing between the two look-alike species. At one time I learned that Jerry had actually written books on identifying raptors so I did a Google search and realized that I was exchanging emails with North America's premier raptor expert. It wasn't too long before I found myself standing on the side of a mountain in Salt Lake City being dumbfounded by how quickly Jerry was able to identify hawks in flight and at great distances. He described how the harrier has a buoyant flight style, compared how eagles soar in large, lazy circles compared to the tighter circular soaring of a hawk, and distinguished between Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks based on the slight nuances in shape and flight style. I learned later that I spurred one of Jerry's blog posts when I was asking him about subtle nuances that help him distinguish between similar looking species in flight. It made sense when I connected his comments with being able to easily distinguish between my identical twin sons at a distance based on the subtle nuances of posture and movement. Jerry helped me identify my first Harlan's Hawk. Imagine my surprise when I bought a book to which Jerry contributed and I saw an image of a Harlan's Hawk he and I both observed and photographed in Utah. Jerry fueled my fire for gaining more and more knowledge of North America's raptors. In short, I blame Jerry Liguori for getting me hooked on hawks.
Check out Jerry's website: Click Here
Buy his books: http://www.jerryliguori.com/store
Follow his blog posts on the Hawkwatch International website by clicking here.
Here are some images of hawk species I saw and/or photographed for my first time during 2014. I owe a lot to Jerry when it comes to my continued interest and increasing knowledge of North America's fascinating birds of prey.
|Harris's Hawk Near Apache Junction, AZ USA|
|Common Black-Hawk in Washington County, UT USA|
|Red-shouldered Hawk in Long Beach, CA USA|
|Swainson's Hawk Sub-adult in Salt Lake City, UT USA|