So, today I went down to Lake Erie Metropark for the annual Hawkfest
, a two-day celebration of our good friends, the raptors.
I love hawks. Even if they do show up in my yard and try to eat the squirrels and birds that we feed, the way a young female Cooper's Hawk wanted to yesterday (she missed). I love them even more after hanging out with Peregrine Falcons, Red-Tailed Hawk, various owls, a Turkey Vulture that thinks it's a person, and an incredibly adorable American Kestrel
. Kestrels are like the budgies of the hawk world, dove-sized and darling. This cutie made little chirps when her trainer gave her a spray-bottle bath, and puffed up into a sphere and began shrieking when she caught sight of a wild Cooper's Hawk that had just been released after banding.
Facts about hawks:
"Hawk" is kind of a catch-all term in the US and UK, encompassing accipiters like the Cooper's Hawk, buteos like the Red-Tailed Hawk, falcons, eagles, and even buzzards. Basically, it can mean "any bird of prey that's not an owl."
Buteo and accipiter hawks, compared with falcons, are clumsy as hell. I have seen some hilarious "misses" by immature hawks that would've made me famous for a couple of seconds on YouTube if I'd taped them. This is part of why falcons have the status as the preferred hunting bird.
Hawks have amazingly keen eyesight. Scary keen. Like, able to see a pea set down in the touchdown zone from the opposite end of an American football field.
Traditionally, "falcon" is a term for a female bird, while "tiercel" applies to the male. (Take that, Falcon Sword!)
Female hawks are larger than the males. Quite noticeably larger. And often more aggressive.
Hawks that imprint on humans as hatchlings and learn to think of themselves as humans will select a human "mate" and fend off potential human competitors. So do some other birds-- I met the "wife" of a Great Horned Owl today. The owl got noticeably antsy if male humans came to close to his lady.
They can learn a pretty interesting array of verbal commands, and recognize things like cameras.
Facts about ravens:
Ravens are awesome. I need not say more.
Facts about herons:
Herons are predators, dammit.