Falcons & Hawks

You may know a hawk from a handsaw. But do you know it from a falcon?

Roughly speaking hawks are broader but shorter winged, have a hooked and a longish tail. They typically kill with their talons in the strike as they land on their prey.

That’s not quite the full story, though. In taxonomy “true” Hawks are members of the Accipitrinae subfamily, of the Accipitridae family. The main family is big and includes birds such as buzzards and harriers as well. Oh yes, and Eagles. Too many. I think I will stick to true hawks!

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More Hawks

Just when I’ve been getting excited over a small falcon a bigger one comes along.

Driving up to have lunch in Canillas de Albaida, and coming round the corner by the San Antón chapel I see a raptor in the air. A moment later it’s landing in the fir-trees that edge the road, lolluping for balance. I catch a glimpse of slate grey – a rather long, narrow tail, a hunched posture – and I have passed already and must pull over, turn the lights off (it’s raining again), yank the handbrake on hard and … well, of course, by the time I get out the bird has flown.

What was it?

peregrine_falcon_in_flight_kevin-coleMy first thought was one of this:  the glorious Peregrine Falcon. I had had an impression of size; I’ve seen Peregrines here before here, and one year they nested on the cliffs above the mill, a stones throw from this road. Incredible birds.

Sparrowhawk by-eddy-van-3000Doubts. I was very close to the bird when I saw it; closer than usual, so no wonder it looked big. But it was the stick-like, long, narrow tail, which it used to re-balance itself, that changed my mind. Peregrine’s have a shorter  tail, generally fanned out on landing. I concluded the hunched shape, the grey back and that tail were an id from the briefest glimpse – saying Sparrowhawk.

Bird of the forests – and there are plenty here – it had flown off into the rain. I got back into my car (the radio was still playing The Cure’s Love Cats), put the handbrake down and drove on.

 

 

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