New Mexico Birds: Accipitriformes


This page is under construction. Accipitriformes includes hawks, eagles, and kites. Hover over a photo series to control the images.

Accipitridae: Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

For my blog about a close encounter with Cooper's Hawks, click here.


Accipitridae: Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Notice how when the tail isn't fanned out, a lot of white shows in the sun at the base of the tail.


Accipitridae: Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

New Mexico's Red-Tailed Hawks typically have brown heads. That's what you see above. In April 2021 I encountered an immature red-tail that looked like the Eastern (borealis) variety—specifically, it had a brown-and-white head. That's what you see below. I included a blurry photo of the hawk taking off because it shows the underside coloration. The Eastern variety usually ranges from Texas east but individuals sometimes wander as far west as California.



Accipitridae: Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

In August 2020 I saw my first Swainson's sitting on top of a light pole on Mesa del Sol. Aside from limited development, that's a treeless piece of high desert—the kind of open area where Swainson's hawks prefer to hunt. 


In April 2021 I added an even fuzzier photo because it shows what you're likely to see from a distance, and because I was able to include insets showing the hawk in flight. In September 2021 I encountered a juvenile in the bosque, in a treetop where it could inspect a large cleared space.


Accipitridae: Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)

All four images are of the same hawk, which I interrupted having lunch (a lizard). Twice during our encounter, it dive-bombed me. A couple of the photos show the white in the tail feathers. In flight, the tail has an obvious white band that can be seen from below or from above. Use that white band plus the black head to help distinguish a distant black hawk from a turkey buzzard.


Accipitridae: Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

For a brief YouTube video featuring this bald eagle, please click here.


Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis)

Mississippi Kite, Ictinia mississippiensis, New Mexico



From a distance, the striking thing about these birds of prey is how thin their wings are. The thumbnail at the left, with two images of the same individual, illustrates this. The dark tail distinguishes them from the locally less common white-tailed kite.


Pandionidae: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)