Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Backlit, Silhouetted Eagle...Which Species?

Birding skill is built on good looks of species; the language of bird identification is target and study diagnostic field marks incorporating a philosophy of "jizz" (general impression size and shape). Yep, that is accomplished under good conditions (lighting, weather, etc.) and soon the art of bird identification is mastered. Then comes an opportunity to push the envelope.

After work (late afternoon on a winter day) an eagle is perched in a tall cottonwood. At a distance it is all dark, nape reflects lighter color with what appears to be a smallish bill...thinking Golden Eagle. Photos are taken at about 75 yards with a DSLR camera, below are two shots. Though lighting is poor, note: the steep forehead; strongly hooked, dark-tipped bill; the white spotting on the wing coverts; no white tail base; the nape lacks large, solid area of golden hue. Now thinking Bald Eagle, for sure. As President Ronald Reagan said many years ago, "trust, but verify" :-) Find something challenging too!