Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Internet Hawk Hunting

I thought that as I wrote about my love of hawks here on the old blog- I should really extend my knowledge of hawks to more that just identifying them as I drive them on the highway. This thought occurred to me while walking the dog last week. It seems that we have a little flock of red-tailed hawks living in the neighborhood. I have counted 6 of them flying and soaring over head in the last couple of weeks. So I started to do a little internet Hawk Hunting.

In my search I came upon this E-book, Life Histories of North American Birds found at http://www.birdsbybent.com. I intend to look at it further, as I found it very interesting and much of it is written as though it were a story of hawk-hunting, not just a factual retelling. I thought perhaps I would leave a passage here:

"The ordinary flight of the red-tailed hawk is rather slow and heavy, as it travels along in a straight line, with rather slow wing strokes. But its soaring flight high in the air is inspiring, as it mounts gracefully, gathering altitude rapidly, with no apparent effort, with its broad wings and tail widely spread and motionless except for occasional adjustments to changing air currents. Once, as I stood on the brink of a precipice looking down over a broad valley, I saw below me a red-tailed hawk floating over the valley and looking downward for game; it was facing a strong wind and was perhaps buoyed up by rising air currents, as it was poised as motionless as if suspended on a wire; it remained in one spot for three or four minutes and then sailed over to another spot a few rods away, where it hung for a similar period...Illustrating its marvelous powers of vision, he says: "A clear morning in March, I saw a Red-tail circling over the meadows; every circle took him higher and higher in the air, until at an altitude where he appeared no larger than a blackbird, he stopped, and with nearly closed wings, descended like an arrow to a tree near by me; from this perch, almost the same instant he had alighted, he flew to the ground and snatched from its grassy covert a mouse. The momentum with which this bird passed through the atmosphere produced a sound not very unlike that of the rush of distant water."

My quest for hawk-knowledge is surely not done yet. I will post facts as I find them.

* thanks to camilla fox for taking this picture and google images for showing it to me http://cfox.livejournal.com/17540.html. yes this is way better than I could have taken from the road.

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