On September 28, I had the pleasure of spotting and photographing an immature Broad-winged Hawk at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge here in Oklahoma. I was driving along the auto tour road on the north side of the refuge near Baker’s Field when the hawk suddenly flew across the road right in front of my truck. It landed in a tree next to the road, giving me the perfect opportunity to stop and try to get some photos of this beautiful raptor.

An Immature Broad-winged Hawk at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

An Immature Broad-winged Hawk

Even though the lighting was poor, with the hawk situated in thick shadows, I grabbed my camera and snapped off as many shots as I could before it flew off again. I hoped that at least one image would turn out decently. After reviewing the photos later, I found that the one I’m sharing today is the best representation of the encounter.

The immature hawk stuck around for several minutes before relocating to another tree out of sight. I feel fortunate I was able to capture this majestic bird of prey during its brief stopover.

Thanks to my friend Mia for confirming the ID on this Broad-winged Hawk sighting. I always appreciate getting a second opinion from fellow photographers on hawk species that can be tricky to identify correctly.

Just another memorable wildlife encounter from my recent photography expedition to the refuge! Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen any interesting raptors lately.

Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer

Interesting Facts About The Broad-winged Hawk:

  • The Broad-winged Hawk is one of the smaller bush hawks, with adults reaching lengths of 13-17 inches and weights of 7-16 ounces.
  • Broad-winged Hawks have a high-pitched, piercing call often described as a “pee-pee-pee” sound.
  • They build small stick nests high in trees, often in dense forests. Nests are reused and added to year after year.
  • Their diet consists mainly of small birds, frogs, snakes, insects, and small mammals. They hunt by sitting patiently on perches and ambushing prey.
  • Although widespread, Broad-winged Hawk populations are declining in some areas due to forest fragmentation and loss of nesting habitat.
  • These hawks exhibit a polymorphism where some individuals are darker or lighter in color. The meaning of this variation is not fully understood.

Image Information:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM
  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
  • Date and Time Taken: September 28, 2023 (08:38 A.M.)
  • Program Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
  • ISO: 6400 (Auto)
  • Exposure Comp: +0.7
  • Focal Length: 500mm

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  1. A Hawk in the Willows