|It's a nicely poetic term -- hawks aloft -- pleasant imagery takes over. Birds of prey under sail. An armada of wings. A message carried on the updrafts and the strong winds.
Hawks Aloft is the title of a book by Maurice Broun: the original story of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary by the original curator. It's a grand and personal story. There's hawk watching for sure but there's danger, too. We hurry these days to set aside all risk; mitigate our fears. We send a check; watch it on Discovery.
Everybody has their own scientists these days, too. So learning things through their poetics will save us and the natural world we live in surer than science, I'm sure. (Biostitute: biologist for sale or rent; biopervert: someone who performs unnatural acts with biological data.)
In bygone days, the Right Stuff of the natural world was well-represented by the dashing form of Maurice Broun. A fine birder, the first professional hawk watcher, and a guardian. Reading Hawks Aloft is an adventure and a call to arms...
Be advised campers, you're looking at photographs from a day when hawks were more abundant, even as they were being shot from the sky than they are today. What!?
A gun in the hands of the best bunch of PA shooters was a pretty inefficient way to diminish the lofting hawks. We've brought in the big guns: pesticides, habitat loss through fragmentation, outright destruction and degradation(where a hectare ain't what it used to be) mostly here in North America. Now the BW's don't come close to darkening our skies the way they used to...
Complacency (due to the distance we keep) and compromise (by corporate conservationists) are probably at the top of the list of today's factors continuing to shrink the hawk numbers. Where do you draw the line? What are you willing to do to save the ones you love? Hell, what have you done lately?
Irma and Maurice came together to Hawk Mountain, a package deal, and the sanctuary sponsors got their money's worth. Irma Broun was known as the keeper of the gate. I'll bet turning back gun-toting drunks is not a typical day-at-the-hawk-watch where you are in 1997. In the 1930's at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary it was what Irma Broun did. I guess they didn't have cable. Of course it was a simpler time. Maurice and Irma knew what needed doing.
Pop quiz: How is hawk watching different from golf? How are they the same? Which list is longer?And what about the book that has me ranting and raving?! It's been in and out of print [like the ideas contained within]; currently, it's in.
The photographs on this page are from my hardcover autographed edition of Hawks Aloft [shown to the right] and of course I didn't take them.