Day of the Eagle

What a better way to spend Black Friday than up in the mountains of Northern New Mexico underneath deep blue skies.  And what a day it turned out to be!

Northern New Mexico has high altitude mountain valleys where I frequently see raptors.  Today was no exception.  It started with an adult Golden Eagle sitting on a perch minding its business and a Red-tailed Hawk soaring above.  Something about the situation triggered me to take a closer look.  Just as I got my camera in hand the Red-tailed Hawk dove violently towards the perched Golden Eagle.  The fight was on!

The Golden Eagle took off horizontally in an attempt to get out from underneath the diving hawk.  Although the Golden Eagle was huge compared to the hawk, the hawk had the upper hand (or talons in this case).  Narrowly missing the eagle, and the ground, at the end of its high-speed dive the hawk pulled up and regained altitude above the eagle.  In raptor fights the bird on top is at a great advantage.  It can hide in front of the sun and dive at insane speeds at the bird below it.  The bird on the bottom has a hard time seeing the diving bird and figuring out how to out maneuver the aggressor.

The first image below shows the Golden Eagle looking eye-to-eye at the incoming Red-tailed Hawk.  I like this perspective that shows the hawk with a serious look as it locks onto the Golden Eagle. I don’t often see hawks being so aggressive to eagles.  Why was the hawk going out its way to attack the initially perched eagle?