Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs

"Canon D30 at the Carolina Raptor Center"

<c>Donald L. Cohen, MD

The Carolina Raptor Center, just north of Charlotte, NC, came into being around 1980-1981. As stated (with permission) on the Home Page of the CRC Website:

"Carolina Raptor Center is dedicated to environmental education and the conservation of birds of prey through public education, rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors, and research."

Having recently purchased a Canon D30 Digital SLR and a small collection of lenses, I was anxious to get out and see what I could do. It was still the middle of winter, so opportunities for nature photography were fairly limited. I then recalled hearing about the Carolina Raptor Center, and headed out a clear, but chilly Saturday morning. I returned a few weeks later for some additional shots. All of the shots posted here were taken with the Canon 100-400L IS lens, either hand-held, or occasionally propped on a wooden railing for support.


The first two shots here are of the Red Tailed Hawk. Since this is not my area of expertise, I thought it would be reasonable to quote (with permission) from the CRC site:

"The Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, is perhaps the most common raptor in North America. It's also the one with the widest diversity in markings, with underside feathers ranging from clear white to completely black. Generally, eastern varieties feature white and grey undersides with brownish bands across the stomach. Their tails range from solid red to banded brown with grey, with infinite variation in spotting and streaking patterns."


The third shot is the Red Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). It is a medium-sized hawk (17 to 24"), and eats insects, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and an occasional bird.

One important aspect of CRC's mission is the rehabilitation of injured birds:

"Birds admitted to the Carolina Raptor Center are immediately examined and treated. Local veterinarians donate their time for x-rays and surgery. A bird may spend from a few days to a few weeks in intensive care before it is moved outside to an exercise cage. The final stage before release is spent in a large flight cage, where the bird is encouraged to fly and build up its flight muscles. An attempt is made to release the bird near the location where it was found, if that is possible and appropriate."

Perhaps one of the most majestic birds on this continent, the next two shots are of the American Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). For many years, it was on the Endangered Species List, but thanks to conservation efforts, the Bald Eagle has made a dramatic comeback, and has been removed from this list.

Quoting again from the CRC website:

"The Bald Eagle is mainly a fish hunter. Its curved talons and spiny pads on its toes are specially adapted for catching and holding slippery prey. It's such a successful hunter, it spends only a few hours at it each day. With eyesight up to eight times stronger than ours, it can spot prey up to two miles away. Using spectacular dives, the Bald Eagle scoops up fish swimming just below the surface or unsuspecting mammals near the shoreline."


Next is the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). Interestingly, according to the CRC site:

"This large owl is often considered the nocturnal, ecological equivalent of the Red-tailed Hawk that shares almost all of the same range as the Great Horned. "

Lastly, I'm including a shot of the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius). This is a beautiful, fine-featured, smaller raptor.

The following information is from the website of the Raptor Center at the Univ. of Minnesota:

"The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon found in North America, and with the exception of the Seychelles Kestrel, the world. Like all members of the genus Falco, American Kestrels have a dark eye, notched beak and unfeathered legs. Males have a rusty back, blue wings and a rusty-colored tail with a black terminal band. Females have rusty wings, back, and tail, all marked with black barring. Both sexes have a dark vertical line running through the eye with white cheek and chin patches. The top of their head is blue with a rusty cap, usually brighter in males than females."


Technical Information

Canon EOS D30 + Canon 100-400L IS lens

Additional photos and information can be found at Dr. Cohen's website: DLC Photography

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