Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Red Tail Hawk Encounter

Here is the scenario: you are walking down the street, a VERY busy street, where at least  200 or so cars and trucks pass each day. Fortunately most of the traffic on the road seems to come in spurts, especially around school drop off and pick up time.  In fact, some of you need a gentle reminder to slow down, as just about every late running Mom and Dad feels justified driving 10 to 20 MPH over the speed limit to get your precious cargo to school. Please, take your time, nothing is that important. And yes, I am guilty of it myself as I too have hurried to the bus stop to make it before the yellow behemoth arrives.

It is a lovely street, with equally lovely homes, and just enough of the natural flora and fauna remaining that make it a great place for various types of wild life to thrive here. There are black bears, racoons, possums, fisher cats, foxes, ground hogs, voles, moles, mice, chipmunks, red squirrels, grey squirrels, bobcats, skunks, porcupines, rabbits, deer, the occasional moose and coyote, as well as all manner of flying avian including my favorite: Red Tail Hawks. 

One bright, sunny day, a week or so a go, I was walking, enjoying the peace and quiet of my early morning exercise when suddenly out of the corner of eye I saw something pass over head. When I looked up a huge Red Tail Hawk landed about 17 or so feet in front of me. (I know, because I counted off the paces after it took flight.) We watched one another for at least 4 minutes as the hawk repetitiously passed back and forth some small, dark prey it had caught in its razor sharp talons.  Frozen in my place, transfixed, I could make out just about every feather and tuft on its beautiful breast. Its eyes were watching me with no sign of fear what so ever. We continued to gaze fixedly at one another until the inevitable, spring time arrival of the landscaper truck on our block, rounded the corner. The gorgeous raptor took off with a steady whoomph, whoomph, whoomph as its impressive wide wings spread slowly apart gaining air and heading across the street to enjoy its freshly caught treat. I saw the landscapers with their mouths agape as they watched the hawk take flight and pass before the grill of their battered truck. It was a magical moment  I will not soon forget.

Where is a camera when you need one?

It was a wonderful to have such strong feeling of connectedness to all things natural.  I was so thankful to not be wrapped up in thought but truly engaged in the present moment to enjoy every minute of that all too brief encounter. I see hawks soaring over and around my house all the time. I even had one or two screeching in my woods all last summer. And screech is an understatement, it was ear piercing and constant,  lasting for hours on end. I was in awe, although, found myself wishing it would move on after 4 or so hours. But then suddenly when it finally did leave, the silence was deafening and I missed "my" hawk. Ironic.

Hawks are amazing creatures. They are symbols of self healing and intuition according to many Native American cultures.  The hawk has keen sight and is a hunter of prey only for sustenance. It is single minded in its focus and majestic in its soaring flight. 

Here is an added treat for those hawk watchers brought to you by my favorite feathered friend site: Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University.

A live web cam of a nest where the female has laid three eggs. They were supposed to hatch around the 17th of April but no signs yet. So enjoy the view!


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