Back on the trail March 2 2015. I have been reading reports of Golden Eagles , possibly Snowy Owls , Red poles here at Hayden prairie. I can see why, what a vast open area. I traveled west on highway 9 and turned North on highway 63 ended up around Lime Springs and Chester. I saw plenty of Whitetail deer, Pheasant, but no Red poles, Snowy Owls or Golden Eagles. I did see 2 Rough leg Hawks. This particular Rough leg I watched on 50th st not a lot of traffic to disturb it. I spotted it
on the ground then it flew up to a utility pole.
Rough legs are found in the Arctic and Sub-arctic of North America and Europe, which make them circumpolar birds that breed in the Arctic tundra. Males seem to migrate more South in winter, females stay more North.
I always see Rough legs in North East Iowa in Winter, I watch as they hover and then dive to the ground after a rodent of some kind. Males can be darker then females although there are darker morphs (variations) in plumage. Rough legs are named for the feathers that go all the way to their feet this helps to conserve heat.
These hawks like open habitat for hunting, but will also hunt from a utility poles, like this Hawk was doing he would return to the same perch every time. They feed primarily on small rodents including mice, shrews and voles.