Birds of My New River Exploration

In January of last year, I went for a bit of a hike, walk, or exploration in the greenbelt area where the New River desert water-feature flows.  It wasn’t a particularly thrilling adventure, but I was looking to experience something akin to wildness that existed within the suburban/metropolitan area of greater Phoenix…and found a bit of it here.

If you’re interested, you can go back in time by clicking here to visit the post that detailed the exploration.

I was expecting to see various plant life, hopefully a fish or two in the small stream,  but I was surprised when I found an abundance of bird life, especially the birds of prey.

The very first photo above may be of some type of finch (couldn’t find an exact match), the second may be a crowned or hooded sparrow, and the pretty bird in the photograph immediately above and below these words appears to be an American Kestrel, also called a sparrow hawk, reportedly the smallest falcon in North America.

The next three photos strike me as being of a Harris Hawk.

I thought the bird might be a Cooper’s Hawk, but it was too darkly colored.

It is also too darkly colored to be a Red Tailed Hawk.

So through the process of elimination, I have settled for the appellation of Harris Hawk.

Lastly, we have a Peregrine Falcon.  This guy/gal was not comfortable with anything resembling a “close” encounter, so I made the photo from “way far away” and thank the zoom feature of my camera for this fine little treasure.

As I mentioned in that earlier post, the physical setting for this New River exploration is equidistant between the NFL Arizona Cardinals’ stadium and the Glendale Municipal Airport.  I nice little retreat from civilization while nestled in the middle of it.

Thank you for visiting….

13 responses

  1. Wonderful to find these feathered friends. I remember driving from Cedar Fort to Lehi for grocery trips and seeing so many Kestrels (my first sightings and attempts at identifying them) perched on the fence posts along the way. I still have a hard time distinguishing the other hawks listed here… but then I usually have the ‘bird expert’ along most of the time. How he does it as he’s driving along I’ll never understand, but I suppose starting from an early age helps a bit. 🤗
    …and thank you for sharing these. The Kestrel is still my favorite little hawk. I can easily ID that one!!! (and it’s so cute!) 😏

    July 23, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    • Yes, it is, Gunta…so nice to find these guys, especially so close to the urban areas. I rather like the Kestrel, myself, too…it almost looks like a juvenile form of something else.

      August 7, 2021 at 7:21 am

  2. Bird photography . . . one of my most favorite kinds of photography.

    Nice captures, and yes, difficult to identify some hawks, especially since they kind of blend in and overlap depending on maturity.

    . . . “hawk” works just fine.

    But, Are you sure about the falcon? I can see a bit of a rusty tail in the photo, and other markers are absent:

    I’d say that’s a Red-tailed hawk unless you have another angle that shows other features.

    July 23, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    • Also, there are versions of the Red-tailed hawk that are dark brown (scroll through the gallery in this link):

      July 23, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    • I think you’re correct, Emilio…even with the myriad variations, the bird I named a Peregrine looks like it’s probably a Red-Tailed Hawk. Thank you for the links. I have saved the main URL for future reference.

      August 7, 2021 at 7:29 am

      • You are welcome. You might like this link (I used to live near the USAFA):

        August 7, 2021 at 8:14 am

        • Wonderful link, Emilio…and yes, I know you used to live near there…in/near Monument, right? I used to actually live on the Academy grounds and my colonel was in charge of the USAFA Falconry Program back then. We used to visit him down at the falcons’ mews on occasion and see the birds “live and in person.” It was a wonderful treat.

          August 7, 2021 at 11:07 am

        • Yup, Monument. And, awesome you got to see the birds live.

          August 7, 2021 at 11:52 am

  3. I would imagine that if you sat beside a water source in the desert you’d eventually see just about every creature in the area. It works the same way here. Rivers draw a crowd. Nice to see!

    July 26, 2021 at 3:19 am

    • Good thought, Allen…and a bit further down the river, there are four aeration ponds that draw water birds by the thousands every year. That could account for these raptors being nearby, as well…lots of food on the wing!

      August 7, 2021 at 7:33 am

  4. What a wonderful gift that day was. The sparrow does look like a White-crowned – we see them here, too. The first bird, looking almost coquettish, shall remain anonymous. 😉 The Kestral photos are beautiful! They’re such attractive birds and this one posed nicely for you. With Cooper’s, the tail is always noticeable longer and more slender than a Red-tailed, Harris, etc., and the whole bird tends to have a sleek look.
    Harris – I may have seen it at some point but I wouldn’t know it if I did – I never figured them out. I think plumage is really variable in buteos in general. What a beautiful photo that next-to-last one is. I think Peregrines can be light or dark too, and yours has big dark eyes, which I see in the photos when I google that bird. The bottom line is you just have to go back and find it! 😉 Thanks for posting these – great photos.
    Have a good weekend!

    July 29, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    • Yes, the day certainly was a gift, Lynn…with all those nice, unexpected treasures!

      The links that Emilio provided above revealed the great variations in the coloring of all of the birds discussed…so striking in their wild beauty.

      And yes, I shall have to go back, won’t I? I think I’ll wait until the temperatures are a bit more friendly for outdoor activities down here!

      August 7, 2021 at 7:37 am

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