This image was taken a second later, and really shows the aerodynamics of the body. The Peterson Guide describes Harriers as "slim hawks with slim wings, long tails.... flight low, languid, gliding..." I enjoy watching them, as they're always hunting, watching the ground for voles, which is their main prey. You can always tell the Harrier by the large white rump patch, clearly visible above.
As I mentioned in a previous post, this particular trip to New Mexico has been particularly rich in viewing birds of prey, both large and small. Just from memory:
- Bald Eagle
- Golden Eagle
- Northern Harrier
- Ferruginous Hawk
- Red Tailed Hawk
- Zone Tailed Hawk... (maybe; briefly over the car, and I remember it was dark, with a black and white tail)
- Cooper's Hawk and Sharpshinned Hawk
- Peregrine Falcon, and
..and probably more, but it's hard, sometimes, to get a positive ID on a bird sitting on a yucca when you're driving by on the interstate at 75mph ;-)
Someday, I'll write about how I got so into amateur birding.