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Captured in Marana AZ this morning 8/19/12. I watched them for a long time, hoping that they would come closer. They were at quite a distance, but still quite a sight for me. As far as I could tell from the distance these were all Swainson’s Hawks. There were about 50-75 hawks in this kettle.

Migrating hawks sometimes form kettles, or groups, that will swirl in small flocks overhead.
Hawks swirling in a kettle are actually circling tightly in an air thermal.
When a kettle of birds is tightly circling in a thermal, they look from a distance like something boiling in a cauldron, which may explain the origin of the word kettle to describe a thermaling flock.
Thermals are what the hawks rely on to assist them on their traditional migratory pathways, which are determined by both geography and weather patterns.


hawks, swainsons


  • Ellen van Deelen
    Ellen van Deelenabout 2 years ago

    Its a beautiful photo Marvin! The only kettle i can photograph here are gulls :)

  • Gilberte
    Gilberteabout 2 years ago

    Nice shot Marvin

  • Rosalie Dale
    Rosalie Daleabout 2 years ago

    How special Marvin! I had no idea the collective was a kettle … learn something every day.

  • artwhiz47
    artwhiz47about 2 years ago

    Wow, Marvin. A ballet of a kettle, I’d say! It must have been something (remarkable) to behold.

  • cherylc1
    cherylc1about 2 years ago

    Wonderful capture!

  • barkeypf
    barkeypfabout 2 years ago

    An educator and photographer. I never heard the tern kettle referred to a flock of birds.

  • LindaR
    LindaRabout 2 years ago

    what a wonderful moment this must have been ~ well done, Marvin ~ hope you are well xx

  • LindaR
    LindaRabout 2 years ago

    I can imagine your glee in having so many circling above ~ a kettle of hawks indeed, a fine moment!! xx

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