I’ve mentioned before that just about every morning, the little singing birds will go deathly silent, and you can hear a hawk calling from a treetop. In my case, it has to be either a red-shouldered hawk or a Cooper’s hawk. The problem is, they don’t sound quite right. I’ve listened to their calls on Cornell’s website, and my “hawk” doesn’t sound remotely like either of them. That’s because it isn’t a hawk, it’s an eagle.
And how do I know this? TV. (See, TV is good for something after all.) Last weekend I watched an episode of “Human Planet” on The Discovery Channel. This particular episode was about the Inuit. (Each episode is about how humans survive the most inhospitable places on Earth.) And this episode is not about “assimilated” Inuit, but about those who still live and hunt in a traditional way. A lot of the program focused on diet, and was fairly repellent to those of us with urbanized sensitivities. Their diet is all meat, and it’s raw. This of course makes perfect sense. Wood for a cooking fire, and fruits and vegetables, are non-existent in the Arctic.
But one of the things they do is train eagles for hunting. Who ever knew you could train an eagle? So there was a scene where an eagle is sitting on a guy’s arm, and it’s calling. It was like instant recognition. THAT is the sound I’ve been hearing. A hawk’s cry is very harsh and rough. This was more like a chirping sound, more melodic.
I’ve known there are eagles in my neighborhood, but I’ve always totally dismissed them as the source of the sound. For one thing, I’ve never known eagles to sit in trees and wait for prey. From what I always understood and have seen, they fly amazingly high, get a panoramic view, and zero in on a target with uncanny accuracy from what seems like an impossible height. But on the other hand, they do nest in trees. There probably isn’t an eagle Rule that says, “Thou art permitted to sleep in a tree, but shalt not catch dinner from there.” Also, eagles mostly seem to like small furry creatures, like rabbits and squirrels, rather than birds, and the main attraction in my back yard is the birdfeeder. However, there is no shortage of rabbits and squirrels either.
So there is no doubt in my mind that it’s an eagle. I have yet to be able to spot it, but I know it’s there. Like I say about National Geographic and the Discovery Channel…Day One: Go Eagle! Get that rabbit! Day Two: Run, little rabbit, run!
While I may not have gotten it until now, the birds, the squirrels, and probably the rabbits certainly did. Although I doubt they care what species it is–to them, it’s all death from the sky.