My friend spotted a large bird in a tree off in the distance as we walked around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge last month. Was it a hawk? Too big. What was it?
We slowly and quietly moved closer to the tree. This not-great quality photo was taken from quite a ways away.
My friend thought maybe a Golden Eagle, which seemed like a very good guess. We very carefully moved a bit farther on the trail until we were on the other side of the tree.
Hello there, regal raptor with the sharp beak and talons! Thank you for allowing us to gawk.
When I returned home and got the photos up on my computer screen, Zippy suggested it wasn’t a Golden Eagle, but a juvenile Bald Eagle. After a little more research, we decided he was correct.
I recently wrote a work-for-hire book about birds around the world and was limited to 100 birds. I didn’t include the Bald Eagle in the Birds of Prey section because I figured kids were already pretty familiar with them. Apparently, the editor felt differently because when my author copies arrived, there was a Bald Eagle on the cover. I checked inside and discovered the Black-thighed Falconet, which weighs 1.23 ounces and is one of the smallest birds of prey in the world, had been replaced by the mighty Bald Eagle. I admit to being disappointed by that switch.
However, I was not at all disappointed by this Bald Eagle sighting. Also? My friend could not have spotted a sparrow-sized falconet from that distance. Amateur birders such as ourselves definitely benefit when the sightings weigh in at close to 14 pounds of pure fierceness.