Spinning tales about hawks


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Hawks are the most common birds of prey. These raptors seize, carry, and kill prey with powerful feet tipped with sharp claws (talons). 

They prevail worldwide except Antarctica. Various habitats are suitable: deserts, open savannahs, woodlands, marshes, rainforests. Exposed areas for hunting are preferable. During migration, a kettle of hawks may cover 1,000 miles.

While pursuing mates, male hawks perform unique aerial displays. Pairs construct nests high above the ground (except for a few ground-nesting hawks). Nesting and hunting occur in the same territory yearly. Females are larger and more pronounced in some species. Many pairs are monogamous for life; when mates die, new ones are promptly replaced.

In the wild, survival is 13 to 20 years. After 1900, deforestation decreased the red-shouldered hawk population. Now, most common in this country is the red-tailed hawk. This fairly non-aggressive raptor is harassed by such birds as crows and owls. In Native American cultures, it is sacred, and its feathers are used in rituals. Trained, it performs tasks for our armed forces. 

Other interesting hawks include the ferruginous hawk, the largest of its kind and often mistaken for an eagle. This species can be trained for falconry (game hunting). The rough-legged hawk is named for feathered legs down to the base of the toes — adaptation for warmth in the arctic home range. The sharp-shinned hawk male is the smallest hawk in North America, similar to a jay in size. It is a daring acrobatic flier. 

Intelligent and skilled, hawks are opportunistic feeders; they are mostly diurnal and solitary. Game may include birds, rabbits and insects. Carrion is also consumed. Hunting skills are enhanced by flight speed and exceptional eyesight. Eyes are positioned to cover 280 degrees. Vision is eight times better than humans—presumably, some prey is spotted from two miles. Color is distinguishable. 

Some hawks swoop upon prey from concealed perches. Others spot game while soaring 100 feet in the air, then dive at 150 miles per hour in pursuit. Pouncing upon victims, they grab them with mighty talons and keep on flying. Understandably, hawks are feared because of fierce hunting skills and gruesome shredding of prey with hooked bills.

While eating, a hawk covers food with its tail and wings: mantling. Nourishment is hurriedly swallowed and stored in its crop (in the throat area) for later processing, enabling it to prudently fly away. The following day, fur or feathers are coughed up in a pellet. 

Hawks are the most common birds of prey. These raptors seize, carry, and kill prey with powerful feet tipped with sharp claws (talons). 

They prevail worldwide except Antarctica. Various habitats are suitable: deserts, open savannahs, woodlands, marshes, rainforests. Exposed areas for hunting are preferable. During migration, a kettle of hawks may cover 1,000 miles.

While pursuing mates, male hawks perform unique aerial displays. Pairs construct nests high above the ground (except for a few ground-nesting hawks). Nesting and hunting occur in the same territory yearly. Females are larger and more pronounced in some species. Many pairs are monogamous for life; when mates die, new ones are promptly replaced.

In the wild, survival is 13 to 20 years. After 1900, deforestation decreased the red-shouldered hawk population. Now, most common in this country is the red-tailed hawk. This fairly non-aggressive raptor is harassed by such birds as crows and owls. In Native American cultures, it is sacred, and its feathers are used in rituals. Trained, it performs tasks for our armed forces. 

Other interesting hawks include the ferruginous hawk, the largest of its kind and often mistaken for an eagle. This species can be trained for falconry (game hunting). The rough-legged hawk is named for feathered legs down to the base of the toes — adaptation for warmth in the arctic home range. The sharp-shinned hawk male is the smallest hawk in North America, similar to a jay in size. It is a daring acrobatic flier. 

Intelligent and skilled, hawks are opportunistic feeders; they are mostly diurnal and solitary. Game may include birds, rabbits and insects. Carrion is also consumed. Hunting skills are enhanced by flight speed and exceptional eyesight. Eyes are positioned to cover 280 degrees. Vision is eight times better than humans—presumably, some prey is spotted from two miles. Color is distinguishable. 

Some hawks swoop upon prey from concealed perches. Others spot game while soaring 100 feet in the air, then dive at 150 miles per hour in pursuit. Pouncing upon victims, they grab them with mighty talons and keep on flying. Understandably, hawks are feared because of fierce hunting skills and gruesome shredding of prey with hooked bills.

While eating, a hawk covers food with its tail and wings: mantling. Nourishment is hurriedly swallowed and stored in its crop (in the throat area) for later processing, enabling it to prudently fly away. The following day, fur or feathers are coughed up in a pellet. 

Actually, hawks can be essential or detrimental. Some control rodents and insects which destroy crops, and some snatch poultry (chicken hawks). Good or bad, these predators are breathtaking: majestic wings gracefully gliding in the open sky.Actually, hawks can be essential or detrimental. Some control rodents and insects which destroy crops, and some snatch poultry (chicken hawks). Good or bad, these predators are breathtaking: majestic wings gracefully gliding in the open sky.


Haiku by Hailey Scalia, 9

Soaring very high

Using sharp vision to hunt

Predator swoops down