Raptor Attention

The other morning, I was walking Beatrice (who has become a presidential candidate in some of Pippa’s latest doodles) north along Orrington Avenue when I saw a bird about the size of a pigeon flying toward me at about shoulder height. As it flashed past me, I realized that it was not only not a pigeon, but was in fact a hawk of some sort — given the nesting pattern at Evanston Public Library, my first inference would be that it was a peregrine.

That reminded me of last weekend in Vermont: as we were driving toward Marlboro, Margaret and I saw a bird plummet dramatically to the ground. Our first thought was that someone had shot it, but as we processed what we had seen and as we recollected that the bird had seemed to be standing up after it reached the ground, we realized that we had probably seen a hawk dive and strike.

I’ve always felt a sympathetic affinity to hawks (I wanted to say “accipiters,” but that subgroup of hawks includes only a few of the birds in question); seeing them as part of my daily life elates me.

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