Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Demise of a hen harrier

I like birds. That being said, I like some better then others and for reasons which are as diverse as the hues in a 128-count box of crayons. I'm rather fond of chicken (unless its a rooster going off at times other than sunrise, had one of those just outside out bedroom in the Azores) but as you might imagine that has more to do with dinner than anything else. I'm exceedingly fond of raptors.

While in Alaska I had the chance to observe the majestic Bald Eagle on numerous occasions. One particularly grand morning in Homer my son Jordan and I sat among them at close distance and got some incredible images. That was one of those days you talk about years later in hushed voices while sitting around a campfire sipping hot chocolate out of a tin mug that has clanged down many a trail clipped to the outside of your pack.

Today was a raptor encounter of a different sort. Mowing the lawn I noticed something hidden in the uncut grass near the rear of the property. I approached and upon closer inspection found it to be some sort of bird. Couple of pokes with a stick found it to be dead so, being the kind of guy I am, I picked it up to see what it was.

It was warm first off, not dead long at all. Not wounded, malnourished or visibly distressed. Like it just fell out of the sky. Between Jordan and I we determined (as well as we could) that what I had found was likely a female hen harrier (Circus cyaneus). Jordan was hands-on as usual and held it out so I could photograph her. Magnificent. A wonderfully curved beak, massive talons of the most extraordinary yellow and a magical pattern to her feathers. An incredible physical manifestation of God's creation in front of us. Perfectly designed to fly, hunt, eat. Sad that she is no more, I'm grateful for the chance to inspect her close up. So long hen harrier. Soar high.



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