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Odes

Ode to Raptors (no, the other kind)

I was contemplating which ode to publish today when this little one (buteo jamaicensis) came to visit. It was cold enough that I kind of wanted to invite it in, but it did let me get within about three meters. 😀

Raptors are birds of prey. They get their common name with the dinosaurs from the Latin verb that means to snatch because they snatch your football-dogs…or something. They are the masters of the air. They are the acrobats and nobles that soar over all, even the other winged things. From the fastest animal speed in the Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) to the fastest migration in the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), they are the standard-setters for the entire world. They captured my imagination and sent me soaring on my imagined wings of a jacket folded up at the hem. They were my preferred toys when traveling and hiking to soar through the unparalleled surroundings with all of the ease that birds have in flight, the power that birds of prey have in the air, and the maneuverability that airplanes can only hint at. Their talons are those of other raptors yet on every digit. They have the most intense of stares and keenest eyesight. Their coloration tends to be on the unremarkable yet elegant side: the purest white of crowns, warm tans and golds of quills, and rufous accents. Falcons are most likely my favorite among these. For a long time, this was because the Peregrine is the fastest animal. Eventually, I have moved to really love the coloration of the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius). Its smaller size and more interesting colors in red and the rare blue plus its habits of hovering make it more interesting to me in a way that these simple reasons do not adequately explain. Owls have always entranced in their own magical way. Long before Harry Potter, the silent flight of owls, their fuzzy-rounded wings, and ability to hunt in the dark of night approach otherworldly powers in ways that almost nothing else can. Harriers with owl faces and diurnal habits hold the slot of weirdly charismatic enhanced by their habits of clasping talons and flipping through the air. Eagles are the quintessence of nobility and power; Hawks of vigilance and effortless soaring. Harris Hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus) live and hunt in packs with cooperative areal formations. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) have doubly opposable toes to better grasp fish and construct their gargantuan nests. Accipiters have the agility to pursue smaller birds through the densest of forest canopies. It is a real treat when birds of prey such as the accipiters exit the forest to visit my verge property. They are rare as the ravens and crows chase them away, which makes their sight all the more astounding. If ever I were to indulge in an activity of the super-rich, falconry would be the most likely.