My husband and I drove an 80-mile stretch through Arkansas this week. The sun was just right to light up the white breast feathers on hawks sitting sentinel in bare tree tops and on stocky wooden fence posts. Once I pointed them out to my husband, we were both saying, “Another one! Another one!” Sometimes there were hawks every tenth of a mile, then a couple miles without any, and then scores in rapid succession again. I wish I’d started counting them at the border. Well over one hundred, probably closer to two. 70 mph was too fast to snap photos; probably too far away anyway. It also was too fast for a couple of unlucky birds on the shoulder. I watched one hawk pounce on prey in the grassy median, then lift off with its catch. Had the pickup truck in front of me been a foot taller, or say, a semi, the bird would not have cleared. As it was, it struggled to rise high enough, fast enough, but finally made it.
A few thoughts come to mind. Why were the birds facing the highway when there were thousands of acres of fields and trees behind them? Were there thousands more studying the peaceful farmlands and woods? How can they sit there, watching vehicle after vehicle roar by and not “get it” that more vehicles are coming? (It’s probably some survival of the fittest test.) Were they out in large numbers because the colder-than-normal winter has been killing off the birds’ food source?
I would look forward to driving south again and seeing if the high numbers of hawks were steady. However, I have driven due south four times. First time–water in the gas tank when we filled up. Second time–ran out of gas. Third time–rear ended by a taxi in New Orleans. Fourth time (this time)–the transmission in my vehicle broke. Jeez Louise!! But unlike the hawks, I have learned something. Never drive due south again!