The sun was in my eyes as I arrived, and I noticed a raptor flying in my direction as I was looking into the sun. It wasn't my wanted Kite, but it is probably one of the best looking hawks in North America. It almost seemed like this raptor knew my situation, and this was his way of saying good morning. And he made an epic appearance...
This is a Swainson's Hawk. While I walked around the fields and neighborhoods of Chino Valley looking for the Kite, there were at least four of these handsome raptors, and they really made it a fun morning. But one of them was particularly cooperative. At first, he soared up high and flew around for awhile. Chino Valley was cold at first, but once it warmed up as the sun rose, the Swainson's wanted to have a taste of the warmth.
After getting in a tussle with another Swainson's Hawk, he decided to come in for a landing after an unsuccessful attempt at a small critter he was preying on in the field. His landing happened to be pretty close to me!
I was amazed at the sight of the hawk! So close! We decided to have a staring contest....
Over the next ten minutes, I probably snapped 100 photographs of the Swainson's Hawk, who didn't even care that I was 20 feet away...
Studly raptor huh? I think so! Swainson's Hawks are a variable raptor, having three distinct color morphs. This one appears to be the intermediate morph. When the hawk and I parted ways, it left me with the best looks I've had of this species up close!
Besides the Swainson's Hawk, here are a few other birds that were present in the Chino Valley.
And non-bird-wise, here's a few Pronghorn Antelope