Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Flight School

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SCREE-em, SCREE-em, SCREE-em!

This is a typical mid-July sound in our neighborhood.

SCREE-em, SCREE-em, SCREE-em!

Where is it coming from? Overhead.

SCREE-em, SCREE-em, SCREE-em!

What is it? A hawk – a Red-Tailed Hawk – a young one, out on one of its first flights.

SCREE-em, SCREE-em, SCREE-em!

As it dips and soars, it calls and calls and calls and calls….

Hey Mom! Hey Dad! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!

I train my binoculars on the young bird in its spiffy new plumage – grey-brown back and wings, pale under parts with dark throat, and a plain grey tail that will not gain the adult’s brilliant rusty-red for many months.

Look at me! I’m flying! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!

The young hawk spreads its wings and tail, broadening them so that its whole body takes on a sort of shield or kite shape…it wheels and soars.

Look at me! I’m kiting! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Wow!

So pristine that it almost shines in the summer sun, the young bird tucks in its wings, narrows its tail, tips its head toward earth, and dives…

Hey Mom! Hey Dad! Look at me! I’m stooping! Look at me! Look at me! Whoo-hoo!

When it next appears above the tree tops, it zooms upward, still in its streamlined tuck, until it reaches soaring level… then the huge wings spread out again and it starts to circle toward the clouds.

Look at me! I’m going up! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Hey!

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