Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hawks, Pigeon and Chicken.

Was going to tell you about today’s experience, but I got side-tracked with Christina’s cute baby coon story.

Today my neighbor and I cut a cord and a half of wood on his property up the hill from me. (More wood) I take care of his mini-ranch while he is gone. He has property in Indiana, and he is gone a lot. The last few weeks as I headed up the hill I’ve been seeing a small hawk perched in a small oak tree. I’ve never gotten a good look at it, but I thought it might be a Peregrine falcon, but it appeared to be too small. I wondered why it was hanging out there. Today as we were setting up to cut wood I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye, and I turned and looked just as the Hawk hit a quail in an explosion of feathers. He sat there with the fluttering Quail in his talons. He looked about defiantly like he was ready to protect his kill from us or anything else. As I watched him I checked his face for the tell-tale helmet and goggle look that peregrines have and he didn’t have the goggles. I tried to memorize his features so I could look him up in my bird book. The most striking feature was his bright black and white banded tail.

When I got home I found a picture of him in my book, the description said; “looks like a miniature peregrine falcon, but doesn’t have the sideburns, and it has a strikingly banded black and white tail, his habitat is open oak forests.” He was a Pigeon Hawk.

My wife spent the first part of today in Half Moon Bay at the Giant Pumpkin Festival. While she was there she saw the fifteen hundred pound plus pumpkins that they grow. She said that they are very impressive. She also met a man with a hawk. She was asking him what kind of a Hawk that it was and it turned out to be a Harris Hawk, and it is reddish brown in color with more reddish shoulders. She said that the man said that it was “The sweetest cold blooded killer that you ever met.”

Anxious to tell her my story about the hawk that I saw. She said; “eeeuuuu, yuck, poor Quail!”. I forgot that she is a city girl.

Beings that this thread is supposed to be about chickens, I will say that when I was growing up, the Red-tailed hawk and the Brown-Shouldered Hawk were called the Red Chicken hawk and the Brown Chicken Hawk. We had an assembly at the South Fork High School one time in the early sixties, and this Falconer was the speaker. He said that we should never refer to Red-Tailed Hawks as Chicken Hawks, because it gave them an undeserved name, and the only Red-tailed hawks that would hunt chickens were hawks that had been wounded. He might have fooled the city kids with that story, but he didn’t fool any of the south fork kids. It started out as a dull chuckle then broke out into a full-fledged roar. Too many of us had seen those poor wounded hawks kill chickens. And I can guarantee that if the people you wrote about are really going to raise free range chickens, they will soon find out about Chicken Hawks.

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