Spreading Its Wings to the South

I’m two shakes of a sheep’s tail away from carrying my camera around my neck at all times. I was leaving work this evening when a hawk glided into the courtyard below and perched itself on the railing.

After much rummaging, which I tried to do as quietly as possible, I managed to find my camera —in the very bottom of my handbag and hiding in a corner. Fortunately, the hawk was in no hurry. It let me take pictures to my heart’s content.

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I thought it was unusual to see a bird of prey in the city of Durham, in a courtyard between two buildings; but apparently, Cooper’s Hawks (like this juvenile) are now fairly common in urban and suburban settings where they prey on such medium-sized birds as Rock Pigeons and Mourning Doves. — Duke Medical Center Campus; Durham, NC

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Notice how this juvenile Cooper’s Hawk is standing on one leg. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, hawks sometimes do this while resting or roosting, perhaps to prevent leg fatigue or simply to be more comfortable. — photo taken on the Duke Medical Center campus in Durham, NC

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Hawks have excellent hearing and the best eyesight of all creatures on earth. They can see eight times more clearly than humans. Because their eyes always face forward and are permanently fixed into their skulls, hawks move their heads from side to side when they need to shift their gaze. As in this picture of a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, they can turn their heads up to 270 degrees. Hawks, it is believed, also see colors. — Duke Medical Center Campus; Durham, NC

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To my delight, a wind gust ruffled the feathers of the juvenile Cooper’s Hawk so that I could get a better look at its tail feathers. Gorgeous! — Duke Medical Center Campus; Durham, NC

A pedestrian on the stairway disturbed the hawk and it took off with a few wing beats and a long easy glide. As the hawk soared up and out of sight, spreading its wings to the south, I was struck by the beauty of creation and I praised its Creator.

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