Monday, February 14, 2011

On Ruffled Feathers

With sputters the motor fired.  Clouds floated overhead, tiny whiffs dotting the blue sky.  Throttle eases forward, nice even rumble rolls forward.  Brakes are set, motor roars to life, metal chatters.  Released brakes hurls machine forward.  Soon the air changes, it is underneath, lifting skyward, ground slides away.  Through the air the chatter slices, climbing to the azure canopy.

Here the big raptors float, catching the thermals,circling on rising hot air.  Out side window can be seen in the distance, wings spread full length to catch the air.  Gliding across the azure face, outlined by cotton puffs.  The majestic bird of prey is oblivious to the presence of us.  With awe I watch the majestic bird hover on thermals, wings changing angle to better catch the air.  Occasional flap of wing to change direction.  Here is a freedom that can only be experienced

Driving the roadway, startles the hawk, with a hop and great swoops of wing it is airborne.  Gaining altitude to find a safe refuge from the intruder.  On solitaire tree it does alight.staring back at the intruder.  What could be an enemy of the majestic birds.  Are they prey for some other raptor.  Is the falcon strong enough to challenge a hawk.  Does the eagle consider them food.  Do they get engrossed in their meal so much that a coyote could sneak up them.

Do they battle to the death with other hawks.  Spring time they riffle feathers up and challenge each other for the affections of mating.  Swooping out of the air, latching onto the challenger with talons.  Swirling in circles overhead, descending to the ground.  Crash landing in the dirt.  One bounces up and flies away.  Other pauses a second, gathers self and jumps back into the air streaking the other way.  The rituals of spring and the need to dominate.

Why would there be a pile of feathers under the snow.  Spring is months away.  There it was a pile of feathers, the leftovers from a meal, a violent encounter.  Nature at its basest, the hunter had become the hunted.  Food for another raptor.  A thing of beauty and grace had been reduced to feather stack on some wind blown grasses.

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With the reddish colored feathers, I’m assuming it was a red tailed hawk that met its demise at the talons of another predator.

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