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Prairie Hawk-eagles

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For lots of North American birdwatchers, the ferruginous hawk is a real Grail. They're not very common, because they need unbroken prairie. I remember seeking out a bit of prairie in Nebraska, looking for prairie dogs and chickens. I found the tiny dog colony, and was viewing the adorable animals through a shimmering heat haze in my scope. These little rodents are so universally persecuted that they won't allow humans within shotgun range. And as if by magic, up over the horizon popped a beautiful ferruginous hawk, as if to say, "This is what once was, and could be again, if corn and cattle weren't king."

North Dakota has a bit more breathing room than Nebraska where prairie is concerned. I saw more ferruginous hawks on this June visit than I'd seen in my whole life. One pair was set up on a powerline support, complete with fuzzy young. You'll have to take my word for it; we were a respectful distance away. The nest is the bunch of sticks to the right.
Mom wasn't thrilled to see us ogling her young.
What gorgeous birds they are, so pale. The tail is nearly white with a pinkish cast; the dark red striped thighs and legs are feathered to the toes, and make a dark vee against the white belly. Close up, the ferruginous hawk has an enormous yellow grin line along the gape that's reminiscent of a golden eagle's. Those features, and their enormous size (they're North America's largest buteo), add up to one thing in my view. This is the American hawk-eagle, the prairie hawk- eagle.
Dad Ferrug. is quite a bit more slender and gracile than his burly mate. How about those gorgeous black tips on the underwing coverts?

So. When are you coming to North Dakota?

Today, I am trimming shrubs and trees and cleaning my car on a fine hot summer's day. Not that it needed it. It is a mouse warren, a straw fest, haven for candy wrappers and Dum-Dums at one with the carpet. The floor mats are so bad I'm just hosing them down, carpet or no. I'm vacuuming and Windexing and Chet is lying under the car in the shade keeping me company. About to load the kids in it once again and take off (via plane) for a family reunion in Colorado. Bill will have been home from his Big Trip oh, about 18 hours when I leave, probably all of that spent in sleeping. He's holding down the fort this time. Wish us uncancelled flights, please, flights that actually get you where you paid to go when you want to get there. I wouldn't mind not seeing an airport for a long, long time after this, and my last trip to RI at the end of July. I think the air travel system has broken down, crushed under the price of oil, but nobody wants to admit it.

I'm sure there's enough gas and oil under the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fix it, don't you? Let's drill, how about? November, November, November, November...


Great shots of the hawks.

I do wish you uncanceled flights and a wonderful family reunion.

Things must be pretty bad to make you wax political. From the choir to which you are preaching, November has become my mantra as well.

Ah--but what must happen in November to fix us?
We have been building this problem for many long years.
I am old enough to remember the previous oil crisis--1973--when I would sneak out of work to go fill up, since the lines were too long at the end of the day. Then the problem was that OPEC decided to limit how much oil we got. And then, people began driving fuel efficient cars. Along came the American auto companies and seduced us with these big vehicles called SUVs, saying--drive, drive, my pretties.
And now here we are.
November--nope, that's not going to solve us.
We have met the enemy--and it is us (apologies to Pogo).

Gorgeous pictures of gorgeous birds! I don't believe I ever met a raptor I didn't love.

Are you lecturing in RI? I would go see you -- but I will be in Marietta! No fair.

Raptors. Thankee.

Such a gorgeous bird. Someday....

Airlines. You are put on notice. Treat Julie nice. Or all of us bloggers shall smite thee.

What a beautiful hawk, and how lucky you got to see so many. I have to admit that I have not flown since... oh.... 2000? Haven't missed it a bit either with all the horror stories out there these days. Hope this trip will be efficient and uneventful and that you arrive on time and with all your luggage! :c)

Lovely bird...I swear I've seen one in my back yard; HUGE bird!

I wish you an easy trip. You'll be in Colorado? Lucky us...If you were speaking somewhere in SoCo, I'd come find you. I want to tell you about my 'brilliant idea' for your suet recipe. I guess I'll have to go find your post re same. You've had me thinking about gout...

What? No chickens in that car?

No matter - November sends a message -- that's why I am staying registered to vote in NM. I just flew 8000 miles today without a hitch - I'm sending you my travel karma.

Blogger was banned here until recently. This will be the first experimental comment. Here goes. Safe travels!

Wonderful bird!
The candy car carpet brought forth smile and pleasant memories of my knuckleheads.
Have a wonderfully safe, efficient trip!

Have a wonderful time. I wish you smooth and safe traveling!

Replying to Donna, I remember setting my alarm clock for 3am in 1973, hopping into my fuel-efficient Toyota Corolla wearing pajamas, robe, hair in curlers. I sat in gas lines for 2 and a half hours and to fill up and once the station ran out of gas. So we all parked our cars and slept until the line started moving again.

Maybe November will help. Maybe not.

The hawk is fantastic.

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