One final post with guest photographer Patrick Murray (aka, my husband).
This will be the last post from the Raptor Experience with my husband’s aunt and uncle. It was a great experience. They came on a visit from Germany and the birds helped bridge any language gaps (at least for me–my husband speaks German just fine–it’s his first language).
Bo and Dante, the Harris’s Hawks, got to spend a little time learning German. They normally don’t participate in raptor educational programs these days, although one of them may be making a debut soon, but during the raptor experience, they get to spend a little time visiting with participants. Bo and Dante normally sit out on perches in the yard. One of the first questions people ask is “what about coyotes?” Bo and Dante don’t sit out on their perches unattended. If no caretaker is going to be close at hand, they go back into their enclosures where they are safe. But, they enjoy hanging out under the canopy of trees and are quite content. They are also content to sit on a glove and look beautiful.
Harris’s Hawks are not found in the majority of the US. Texas is the most likely place to find them, although they are also seen in New Mexico, Arizona, the most Southern part of Southern California, Louisiana, and, occasionally, Oklahoma and Nevada. To see two in Tennessee is quite a treat–they truly are beautiful birds. They’re also quite intelligent hunters. They hunt in a cooperative fashion in small groups. This has made them a favorite among falconers and they work very well with hunting dogs.
I have never seen a Harris’s Hawk in the wild, although they are not considered endangered or rare. The just have limited territory in the US and I haven’t been where they are. Just as I wouldn’t expect to see an Anna’s Hummingbird in Columbus, Ohio, it would be silly to think I’m going to spot a Harris’s Hawk in Chattanooga. Sometime I’m going to make a trip back to Harris’s Hawk territory when I have time to go birding.
As usual, in spite of the charm of the owls or the flying of the Red-tailed hawk, Cayce stole the show. She refused to fly from glove to glove. Instead she hopped along the ground, only flying up to a glove for a treat. She’s a funny girl. I wore my boots just in case she decided to try to bite my legs. She chased me briefly, snapping at my calves. I was happy I had my boots on. I don’t know exactly what makes Cayce so universally lovable. Maybe it’s just the surprise of getting to know a vulture and discovering that they’re so cool? What ever the reason, Horst and Elvi appeared to enjoy Cayce’s antics just as much as if we were all speaking the same language.