I love all living things, but raptors have a special place in my heart. Keen as the wind, eyesight to split pin-heads, they soar on the updrafts while all the ground birds wait in silence. Then as a spectre out of a dream, they fall like the fastest arrows from the sky to strike a clueless dove or mouse on the ground. I witnessed a kill one day, out under the mighty oak, or rather, witnessed the aftermath. I heard a crash in the tree beside me, and turned in time to see a burst of grey, and then feathers silently drifting to the ground. They strike only to abate their hunger, nothing left, nothing wasted. Mercifully instantaneous death from above.
I am fortunate to live on a small tract of land that butts up to an untouched utility right-of-way, a strip of wild brambles and trees that runs about a quarter mile down to the St. Lucie River. Across the highway is a large State Park of Florida Wetland, but it is gradually being infringed upon with development, and we have seen a lot of wildlife move to our side of the road. In this tract out back, there stand a few giant Slash Pines, and there aren’t many of them left after a blight of beetles 20 years ago. But the hawks have found them.
I have been watching a particular hawk for about 5 years now, and a fine specimen is he. He has had his territory mapped out to encircle our block and all the slash pines down to the river, and he has been calling for a mate for many , many months. I have tried to make an accurate ID on him for as long as he has been around, and at first I thought he was a Red-Tail. But closer inspection made me toss that ID, and I am now thinking he may be a Florida Marsh Hawk, which is much more rare. And he has finally found his mate. My Dad and I were privy to their mating dance a few months back. Such a sight!!
He wouls soar to dizzying heights where he seemed suspended momentarily before rushing down like a bullet to buzz his lover in the pine tree below! Over, and over this majestic sight played out. Most people live thier whole lives without witnessing such natural beauty, and it was a dream come true for me. But the best was a few days later. I heard a commotion in the wild tangle of branches out back, and to my amazement- there he was covering her in an oak- right in full view!!! I stood breathlessly untill they were done mating, unable to believe this gift I had been given.
I haven’t sighted them for a couple days- I am busy scoping out the tall Pines where they might have nested. I called the local Audubon(sp) Chapter, but I posted this first before sending this footage to them. I hope to find a way to protect this land for future generations of wildlife. Then these majestic birds of prey can live here forever. Thank you God, for such noble creatures.