Raptors at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

If you like raptors, this is the perfect time of the year to go birding. Not only are the raptors concentrated in areas where birds overwinter, but the lack of leaves makes it easier to see them. It was impossible to miss the many raptors, mostly Red-Tailed Hawks, at the Sacramento NWR.

Leslie took most of these shots with the little Canon SX 60HS and more often than not the light was behind the birds, which they seem to prefer. This one of the Red-Tail getting ready to take off was one of the better shots

as well as this shot of a very threatening looking Red-Tail.

I nearly missed the best shots of a raptor because I’d reset my camera’s shutter speed to get a shot of the hummingbirds at the feeder at the visitors’ center. Luckily I was shooting in RAW format and was able to push the exposure and get these shots of a Cooper’s Hawk that decided to come for a morning brunch at the feeders.

Despite its grizzly nature, I couldn’t help but snap shots of the Cooper’s Hawk feeding,

right down to the last feather.

It’s times like this I’m glad I shoot everything in RAW format. The shots would obviously have been better if the exposure had been correct, but they do a good job showing what the hawk actually looked like in the shadows.

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