This bird likes to hang out at Fairview Cemetery on south Yale. I've seen it several times, but only on Feb 15 did I get this close to it -- and then only got 4 pictures before he/she took off. This bird does not have the banded tail of a Sharp Shin or Cooper's Hawk (which I have also seen in the area). It seems to be largely black or dark brown with rough white spots and that coloring makes me think it is young. I include the partial picture of it flying away so you can see the coloring under the wings as well. It gives me the impression of being large (imposing), because I can easily spot it from some two blocks away in trees on the east side of the cemetery (and have gotten pixelly pictures). I want to think it's a young eagle but that may be wishful thinking... what do you think?
I saw that bird in one of my books and wondered... not enough pictures in the book to make a decision though. Bosque Bill's my go-to guy :)
That's a young bird, as you thought, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk - one of the lighter colored ones. They don't get red tails until they mature.
The brown speckles on the lower chest is the start of what some, in the adult's, will call a "belly band."
The clincher, though, is the patagial marks (dark marks on the leading edge of the wing, near the body.) Red-tails are our only hawks with this marking, which can usually easily be seen in soaring birds.
Pretty much any raptor around here that is large and imposing will be a Red-tail. When you see a few more you will begin to learn their posture and silhouette sitting and will be able to ID them from a distance. The bills on eagles are proportionally much larger than in hawks and can be easily noticed.
Thanks for this information! I shared it with folks at work who had also seen the bird and we were all pleasantly surprised and will be watching to see him/her again. One reason I thought it might be an eagle (though your beak size explanation makes great sense) is I did see one a few years ago down at Bosque del Apache when we went to see the cranes. I didn't realize what I had photographed until dumping the pics into my computer. I thought I just had two scenic pitures of a lake with Cranes and an old tree. But the bump on that tree was actually a Bald Eagle who wasn't frightening the much larger Cranes. I'm sure there are Bald Eagles more up and down the river, fishing, but probably not hanging around in cemeteries even if there are big trees and lots of potential meals (I haven't seen any squirrels there for a while...).
When I googled Red-tailed Hawk, Wiki had several pictures, including of young ones that looked a lot like the one in the pics above (but not so fuzzy :)
We have Bald Eagles that return to the bosque in Albuquerque every winter. They stay close to the river as they eat fish, as you noted.
I'll have to go looking for them if I can find some slacks that don't attract burrs... I ruined one pair that way trumping through the underbrush last fall and saw very few birds for all my trouble. I got some good fall pictures of the trees, but I decided after that to stick to the ponds (to see the ducks and geese) or stay in the neighborhoods to see a lot more birds that like easier living.
The eagles can be seen flying over the river for its whole length. When you drive or ride over a bridge look up and around. They can be seen from the levee or bike trail primarily between Paseo del Norte and the Nature Center (from my experience.) If you tramp through the woods they will hear you and fly long before you see them. Look in tall trees next to the river.
These are good ideas. If i stick to the paths, that should help (save my clothes), or go to Tingley Beach early (it's within walking distance) or maybe on a weekday. I could walk along Tingley Blvd itself and maybe up to the area of the Botanical Gardens. This weekend's predicted weather seems to be good, so that would be a new trail to walk. I might even stop by to see if the bushtits are hanging out in the same bushes or see if any new birds are at the Beach itself :)
The eagles will only perch where they can keep an eye out for lunch (fish.) That usually means up high in large trees with sturdy, isolated branches at the water's edge.
When watching for hawks in the cemetery, I look for similar but lighter-weight branches. Such branches are a lot easier to launch from. I was one time passing (at a distance) a bush with dozens of sparrows in it, all chatting about daily activities. Suddenly they all quieted at once -- and then started screaming in panic but not leaving the bush. I was surpised and looked for the answer -- a hawk had landed at the base of the bush and was simply minding his/her own business, which happened to be enjoying terrorizing the tiny birds. It was clear the hawk knew s/he couldn't wiggle into the bush (a roadrunner might have tried, though a cat probably wouldn't have). So the tiny birds that folks feel sorry for actually do have a lot of defenses. I think hawks prefer meatier pigeons and doves, and eagles go for fish, rabbits and the like. I will try to go eagle spotting this weekend :)