Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Morning Hunt

Coopers Hawk
(Double click to enlarge)
It was the dark shadow at edge of the field below that caught her eye as she made long soaring turns at 200 feet in and out of the morning updrafts. She had been hunting since first light without success and now the sun was bright making any prey more wary and skittish.  Her hunger was growing.  There was little time left until the morning heat would reduce the prospects of a successful hunt to zero.  Anything that looked like food was now getting a closer second look.
The dark figure was next to a decaying log.  It moved. She began a slow gliding turn angling her fully extended wings imperceptibly as she slipped off the cusp of warm rising air that held her aloft.  She raised her head and slightly lowered her legs, increasing the relative angle of her body to the horizon. Her heart quickened as her forward speed slowed high above the field. 
The feathers atop her powerful wings began to flip loosely in the stalling air. Reaching a near stationary hover, she fluttered her wings slightly to steady her position as she retargeted her prey.  The attack would be innate, automatic and precise.
Her plan complete, she tucked her wings and dropped vertically nearly 100 feet from a liquid clear blue sky toward the small furry lump nibbling in the grass at the field’s edge. The attack was out of the sun, silent, sudden and violent, executed with absolute precision.
There was no alarm or even a shriek as three talons, two from one side, one from the other, pierced the heart of the unsuspecting animal, ripping it, dead, in a stir of dust and dirt from the earth where it had lived.
The morning hunt would not go unrewarded.  

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