Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Harris's Hawk

Mostly we follow botany stories here at the journal, but once again my other hobby, "Birding" comes to the forefront. As I tell stories from my recent visit to Arizona, once place remains as a stand-out in my memory. For anyone making travel plans, the DO NOT MISS site from Arizona was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place!

We easily spent four hours there, and along with the Burrowing Owl, Javalina, and Cougar displays, a free-flying Harris's Hawk show was the most entertaining Education I have had in a long time! Four Harris Hawks, one seen here resting with his handler, preformed an open air display against the desert sky. Harris's Hawks are endlessly fascinating, partially because they are the only hawks that routinely live and hunt in family units. Their hunting technique is not unlike a pack of wolves, where cooperation and team work results in successful hunts. Watching the "pack" in the sky was equivalent to an aerial ballet.

Harris's Hawks display a beautiful rufus shoulder and a white band at the tail's base. These are true southern species, known in South Texas, Arizona, and predominately Mexico. This intelligent bird has carved out a niche, where there where no similar predators in the desert. They did not co-evolve with the desert, but rather became opportunist once ranchers moved in with Longhorn cattle and water-troughs. These Hawks would be unable to survive the desert with the additional water supply, but have won the west through their resourcefulness and teamwork. Go Hawks! My new favorite team.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cheryl,

    I never knew that Harris Hawks hunted in packs. That's so fascinating. I hope some day I'll be lucky to be in the right place at the right time to see it. Thanks for sharing that.