Friday, October 8, 2010

Rapture on Raptors

via National Geographic
I like raptors. There's something about the hoot of an owl or the cry of a hawk that conjurs magnificence.

I specifically love the Peregrine falcon. That may be because DDT almost killed them all by the time I was born, so conservation efforts focused on the Peregrine for years afterward. I remember touring the Kennedy Space Center as a teen and the highlight of my visit was a Peregrine falcon sighting. Go figure!

The bird really is extraordinary. It dives up to 200 miles per hour, making it the fastest creature on earth. The name "Peregrine" comes from the wandering tendency of the bird and various subspecies are found on every continent, except for the polar regions. The agility of longwinged Peregrines is amazing, better than the higher ranked (by the Book of St. Albans) broadwing eagles. Exceptional vision also make it highly favored by falconers. 

Falconry was once a noble pursuit in Europe, the Middle East and even Japan.  In the UAE, the sport is an important part of national heritage. Conservation there has taken on epic proportion, with the country spending millions of dollars on breeding centers and falconry events. (I lived there for a while so I've even had a falcon on my arm...I must have a picture around here someplace...)

Symbolically, the falcon means good things:
  • The sun. Egyptian sun god Ra is portrayed with the head of a falcon.
  • Nobility
  • Strategy 
  • Loyalty  (It mates for life.)
  • Focus
All of these things make for a good hero and serendipitously, Freya (see Goddess Culture) wears a cloak of falcon feathers. 

This is a clip of an American farmer and his tame red-tailed hawk.  Some of you may not appreciate watching a bird hunt down a rabbit, but I'm amazed by nature at work.

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N. R. Williams said...

I love falcons as well. At DIA (Denver International Airport), they introduced the Peregrine Falcon to control the rabbit population. Rabbits eat the wires under parked cars, and also eat the wires that connect the runway lights. There has to be a suspense novel in there somewhere.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Kelly Polark said...

Falcons are amazing, beautiful birds. We had a hawk hanging around our yard for a while and then realized why. A mouse had babies in a mouse nest in the hood of the kids' (unused) electric play car!! :)
My dad is a bird photographer so I very much appreciate the beauty of their nature!

LTM said...

gorgeous! We have all sorts of birds around here--it's not uncommon to see a falcon or hawk circling... of course we are in the "country."

Now where's that picture of you w/the falcon??? :D <3

Carolyn V. said...

They're so beautiful. I can see why they are symbols of good things.

Aleta said...

I love Falcons. They are beautiful birds. I also like Hawks. We have a hawk in the neighborhood - graceful creatures!

MTeacress said...

I remember a neighbor had a Peregrine Falcon when I was a girl - I don't know if it was legal or not. But I got a close up look, and have never forgotten the beauty.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Thanks for all the comments! In order to own a raptor, there are licenses required by state or local governments and probably zoning rstrictions as well. Anyone interested in falconry should check with local officials.

Hart Johnson said...

I love raptors, too--we see more hawks here than falcons, but I love them all. they are majestic and look so intelligent. The Portland Zoo has a very cool 'Birds of Prey' exhibit and I'm pretty sure it is a Perigrine Falcon that is so impressive in that one, though there is also a really BIG bird that they warn you not to let your children move.


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