Sunday, February 14, 2010

Red-tail Update- An M and Hawk Pronouns

Photos:Donegal Browne
Finally after several days of searching I found one of the Ms. I think the fromel, though I had some doubts as she was not glaring at me. Though perhaps the glaring is reserved for nest duty. Either way, as Mr. Blakeman has explained, a hawk of unknown sex, according to current falconers, was historically called she, as a compliment to Queen Elizabeth I.

5:01PM I'd scanned the nest side of the road thoroughly and was about to give up when I turned around and realized that one of the power poles on the other side just didn't look right.

And there she was. I'd left the car running, the lights on, the stereo playing, and at least at this point she didn't even seem put out enough by my presence to look at me.

But that didn't last more than a few seconds. When I next looked up she was looking at me.

She is still actively surveying the area and so still actively hunting. I can't see her crop so I've no idea how she is doing in the food department, though she looks in fine feather and bright eyed.
Mrs. M. is now looking over the side road directly at the area in which the Gilmour's have their shop.

Now back at me.
Anything scampering below in this direction? Then she stared fixedly at me and I was concerned she'd flush so I turned my back to her...
...and took a closer current view of the nest so we'll have something to compare to later photos as the season progresses.
It worked. I turned my back and she felt comfortable enough to turn her back as well.
Now she scans below the pole near the roadway. So far, evidently there are no little rodents to swoop down on.
A car comes down the side road past her and while I'm looking at it turn on to M, and doing the polite Wisconsin wave, M takes to her wings and heads toward that silo and beyond. She then flies and flies and flies off for the far distant trees and disappears. Ah, their territory most likely includes that area. A passer-by had once told me that he often saw a hawk near Sunset, a street on the very edge of Milton, which is the first town in the direction in which the hawk just flew. I get into the car to try and follow her.
The first street one comes to on the edge of town is Ivanhoe. Here I found a woody ravine with the subdivision's houses regularly buildt along Ivanhoe
But Ivanhoe is built up over the ravine and the depression travels at right angles to it in both directions. If you peer through the branches you can see above that there is a bare area beyond the trees. Possibly a frozen pond or at least a vernal pond extant long enough in the spring and summer to keep it bare and a possible place for raptors to hunt while using the trees for perches. Sunset, the road which was mentioned to me also has views of the ravine. I didn't see Mrs. M but it was getting dark and there were plenty of places for her to perch unobserved. This possible boundary is a place to keep an eye on in the future.
Photographer Francois Portmann and I have been having a discussion about the fact that using "it" for a bird seems disrespectful but on the other hand people who don't know you are using she in the universal sense might become confused. It is a quandary.
Here is his latest offering which I find extremely titillating, being a classical trained actress, I see Will Shakespeare everywhere in life already.

Hey Donna,
Regarding the matter of pronoun,
I find this interesting too:

“Henry's daughter Elizabeth (b. 1533; d. 1603) loved hunting and hawking, and one source claims that she had a woman, Mary of Canterbury, as her Grand Master of Falconry. The queen's royal rival. Mary Queen of Scots, was eventually executed by Elizabeth. During Mary's long captivity she whiled away some hours by flying a merlin. Elizabeth's heir, James I, was a falconry enthusiast. Shakespeare, who was writing his plays during this period, used extensive falconry imagery.”

“Shakespeare and the “haggard hawk”
Many have noted Shakespeare’s fondness for the metaphor that compares a fickle woman to a “haggard hawk.” It appears in Othello (3.3), in Much Ado (3.1), and most notably in Taming of the Shrew, in which Petruccio demonstrates how to tame a shrewish bride with the same methods used for taming a falcon: denying food, sleep, etc.. Shakespeare invariably refers to hawks as “she,” because it is the female, or peregrine falcon that’s the best for hunting, the female of the species being bigger, stronger and faster than the male.”

Is it Shakespeare’s influence?
Who knows,


Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

I hope I'm not the only woman who's always been creeped out by the Taming of the Shrew.