Ferrugunios Hawk, the “Regal Eagle,” a magnificent bird and a species I never see often enough. Though the light morph birds are beautiful, I am always amazed at the beauty of intermediate/dark morph birds. The rufous tones to the dark plumage is always striking to me. The dark plumage also always seems to make them look bigger. One individual in the Parker Valley that has been present for the past two years has been reported as a Golden Eagle a couple of times, it looks that big! Most dark birds that are seen are actually intermediate or rufous morphs and not true dark morphs which make up roughly 1% of the population, while intermediate morphs make up ~5% (Wheeler 2003).
This winter there have been a few around the Parker Valley, including the returning dark intermediate morph bird on Wilson Rd, but we have not had the large numbers of birds being reported around Yuma this winter, e.g. 50+ birds reported in a day by Henry Detwiler. However on 17 Feb Lauren Harter and I, along with Steve Ganley and Larry Norris, saw this unusual individual in the southern Parker Valley by Navajo Rd. The bird was interesting with a gray head and grayish wash to the chest, and very rufous underparts. Lauren had seen this same individual last winter in the same area, but was unable to adequately photograph it. This is the only such bird we have seen, and I was only able to find one photo like it on the internet and none in our references. I was able to get a few photos, though the bird did not allow close approach as seems typical of the species.
Wheeler, Brian. 2003. Raptors of Western North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton.