New Mexico Birds: Accipitriformes


This order includes hawks, eagles, and kites. Hover over a photo series to control the images.

Accipitridae: Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Cooper's hawks are the common hawks throughout Albuquerque. For my blog about a close encounter with Cooper's Hawks, click here.


Accipitridae: Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)


Accipitridae: Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

New Mexico's red-tailed hawks typically have brown heads. That's what you see above. The eastern variety has a brown-and-white head. That's what you see below. I included a blurry photo of that 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. The May 2022 photo was taken from closer up, but the lower part of the body is obscured.


In September 2021 I encountered an immature Swainson's in the bosque, in a treetop where it could inspect a large cleared space.


Accipitridae: Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)

All four June 2021 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, but only barely. In flight, the tail has an obvious white band that can be seen from below or above (see the thumbnail to the left). Use that white band plus the black head and short tail to help distinguish a flying black hawk from a vulture.


Accipitridae: Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Bald eagles drift into Albuquerque during the winter, roosting in the Bosque and flying above the Rio Grande. Usually they're distant large birds, barely more than spots in the sky—identifiable because of the contrast between the dark body and the white head and tail.  For a brief YouTube video featuring one of these bald eagles, 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)