Not So Solitary

hawksLast week we took a much needed couple of days away at some family property in the country.  As we drove up the gravel road, two birds flew low above the car.  We originally thought they were owls; brown and tan in coloring, large wings.  It was majestic the way they flew and soared through the air.  I watched them go, then was distracted by the fact that I had to stop the car so as not to run into the house; you know, the little things.

We unpacked, got settled, and came out to take stock of things on the deck.  It was then that my husband noticed the birds again, this time alighted in a large tree about 100 yards off.  This particular tree, unlike the rest of the forested area, happened to have no foliage on it for some reason, so they were markedly easy to spot.  Not owls, we now realized, but two hawks of some sort.  My husband pulled out his spotting scopes and mounted them on the deck table so we could all take a really close look, which ended up being a fantastic idea.  They were beautiful, and amazing to watch.

What was most interesting was how fascinated I was with them even though they didn’t do much of anything.  They sat a lot, looked around a lot, one flew off with a loud cry while the other stayed.  But I was completely transfixed.  They seemed almost magical, for some reason.  So serene, so unaffected in their quietness.  It was like a meditation just to observe them.

The second one eventually flew off on a mission, so we took its cue and went off on one of our own, exploring for a while as well.  But later, as dusk settled in, so again did the hawks.  Same tree.

Before, they had been apart from each other, in different parts of the tree entirely.  But this time was interesting; they were on the same branch, quite close in proximity, almost like they were sitting together intentionally.  They stayed like that for quite some time, very still, not really even scanning around them.  It made me so curious; were they family?  Companions?  Mates?  Communicating in some way?

Eventually, one flew off, but the other remained.  I watched it for as long as the light would allow; it was still there, the last we checked.  My husband pondered if that was perhaps their roost.  For some reason I would have thought they would roost somewhere more sheltered (as if I have any kind of intimate hawk knowledge).  But maybe?  For some reason I have always thought of hawks as a solitary bird.  Maybe it’s because whenever I see them, I only ever see just one.  But our sighting certainly changed that theory.  These two clearly were a pair, and it was so beautiful to have had the opportunity to watch them together.

As the light finally faded, I found myself hoping that tree really was their roost, and they would be there again the next day.  Only dawn would tell…