Yesterday I was excited to see a hawk land in the driveway in our back yard, Cooper’s hawk or sharp-shinned hawk. The birds at the feeder left promptly. It stood there for a few minutes, so that I was able to walk across the deck to within ten feet of it and look closely. It flew then to the garage roof, rested there, and flew to a low branch of the sugar maple tree where I could walk under it to look again. Finally, it dropped back down to the driveway, look up, and rose fast to pick something off a branch and fly off. After a few minutes, the usual customers returned to the feeder.
I wonder why I’m fascinated by raptors, birds that snatch prey and carry it off to eat or feed to young. Maybe it’s because, large or small, they look and are so deadly and still so beautiful.
The largest land bird in North America is the California condor with wing-span of 9 feet; the Andean condor is a little bigger. Condors are not raptors but carrion (dead stuff) eaters, vultures. The California condor nearly went extinct, but the remaining 22 birds were captured in 1987, bred, and the resulting population was successfully returned to the wild mountains. rjn