"Hit Or Miss"

Sharp-shinned Hawk
by Keith & Marilyn Davis

sharp-shinned hawk       In the wild, predators are constantly on the hunt. To survive, they must become superb masters of surprise and ambush. We frequently see Sharp-shinned Hawks hunting in our area. Not all hunts are successful. An experienced, mature bird, may only make a catch once in ten attempts. The inexperienced hawk could face starvation before successfully feeding himself. There are many dangers facing an aerial hunter. As the flying prey twists and dodges at high speed through trees and other obstacles, there is always a possibility of the pursuer striking a hard object, instead of the prey.

       My honey was standing outside our garage doors when one of the many Eurasian-collared Doves now in southern Utah, flew like a bullet toward our house and then made a sharp right turn and dodged between our fence and a pine tree. The pursuing Sharp-sinned Hawk had been focusing on his immediate overhaul of the dove and missed the right-hand turn in the air. He slammed into our metal garage door, ricocheted off and staggered through the air to the Mulberry Tree in our front yard. There he sat, out on a branch, with a brand-new headache, trying to understand what had just happened to him. This Sharp-sinned Hawk was a young bird, with not enough experience, and had lost track of his flight plan. In just a few minutes the hawk was off again, seemingly with no adverse effects, gliding through the air, looking for another hit-and-not-miss meal, a meal that was not quite as smart as the last one he pursued. What a great experience this was, to watch an episode of nature suddenly explode right before my honey’s eyes.

       We spend way too much time cooped up in our houses and miss the real story of life, which takes place outside our comfortable homes. Soooo . . . you are invited to venture outdoors and join the Red Cliffs Audubon as we begin our season of Presentations and Field Trips on September 14, 7:00 p.m., at the Tonaquint Nature Center. This is a Social and Potluck Dinner. Red Cliffs will furnish the main dish and soft drinks. You bring a side dish or dessert. For more information, call 435 673-0996. The befuddled Sharp-shinned Hawk was drawn byKeith (honey) Davis.