The raptors are back this week after being absent since early July, when the weather turned hot and muggy. But in the last few days the humidity has dropped and the mornings are crisp enough for long sleeves, and breezy, and those big birds are heading back south. They're taking their time. No hurry. Monday was a two-eagle day--we spotted one soaring over the athletic fields in the park on the morning walk, and I spotted another one wheeling high above the Mississippi River on my way home from work. Its white head and tail gleamed in the evening sun.
On Wednesday I saw another eagle, gliding in high loops around downtown Minneapolis as I took my noontime walk. And in the morning, Riley and I spooked a hawk.
It was a young red-tail, and it had been sitting in a tree that it should not have been sitting in; a young elm way too small for it. It's hard to believe those slender branches held its weight, but I guess they did. The hawk was concealed by the thick leaves and I didn't know it was there, but as Riley and I approached, it burst out of the tree and sailed off away from us. For a split second, it was close enough for me to grab, had I been super-quick. My gosh, it was big--so big it looked almost comical coming out of that tree, like clowns coming out of a Volkswagen beetle.
It swooped up and landed on a light pole, right in front of us. We continued across the grass, careful not to stare, careful to look nonchalant ... but for a split second I turned my head, and when I looked back, it was gone.
In another month, the migration will be in full swing, and people will gather at Hawk Ridge in Duluth to watch and count the hundreds of raptors that fly south along the shore, avoiding the glittering expanse of Lake Superior.
Hundreds would be great to see. But me, all I need is one or two in the morning, an impressive reminder of the wildness we have displaced, the wildness that is around us still. We need only to look up, and pay attention. And don't overlook those small trees.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Book note: I'm over on Lane's blog today, answering a few questions. Stop on by and say hello!