(November 9, 2017) This very large bird (see photo at right) was spotted on Conservancy mitigation land recently. Since being photographed, we’ve shopped the photo out to a number of experts for identification. We on the staff gave it a preliminary ID as a common black hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus). (see bottom photo)
However, Sacramento is not in the typical range of the Black hawk. Mexico and the American Southwest? Yes. But not all the way north to Sacramento. We thought it might be a Common black hawk way out of its range.
As it turns out, the experts we consulted came to a conclusion: the bird in the top photo is a pre-adult Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Assuming the Conservancy’s experts (in whom I have great confidence) accurately identified this animal, it is still an important find. Not a first by any means. But uncommon for sure.
It might be worth reading up on this raptor. It is described as having a wingspan of five feet 11 inches to seven feet eight inches. This is a very impressive bird.
We are pleased this predator has found the Conservancy’s preserves to be worthy of a stopover. Will it stay?
My guess is that it’s all about the food (prey availability) and whether the Natomas Basin is too urbanized for them to feel safe. We’ll keep trying to make this the best possible home for it should it choose Natomas!