Red tailed hawks have excellent vision. They can see colors, even in the ultraviolet range, which we humans cannot and their fantastic eyesight helps them find and catch prey from far distances. Red tails also have an extra eyelid. This transparent eyelid is called the nictitating membrane. They can close this extra eyelid when perched to shield their eyes from wind and for protection when diving into the water to make a kill.
Native Americans are said to have had a spiritual relationship with red-tail hawks. They are considered sacred and a protector spirit of the Cherokees. According to Native American shamans, the red-tailed hawk with its sharp, eagle-like whistle indicates that ‘you should clear your mind.’ Moreover if one spots them it is an augury that something very sacred is about to take place and the Creator is giving a message that a miracle is on the way.
One of the Red tailed Hawks made its way to Manhattan in the 90s, built its nest on a 12th floor ledge in Fifth Avenue and quickly adapted to its urban environment with remarkable ease. It attracted a lot of attention and was called Pale Male. Soon Pale Male found a partner in Lola and sired many youngsters. Unfortunately they failed to reproduce in 2004 when the residents of the apartment that Pale Male had selected for its nest, had it removed. There was a huge outcry and the public railed against the move and protests stopped traffic along Fifth Avenue! Eight years later, his new mate Lima was found dead in Central Park, most likely from eating a poisoned rat. The fate of Pale Male is shrouded in mystery. It was the subject of a documentary and a slew of books.
During its presence in Manhattan it lured and inspired many urbanites to the pleasures of bird watching!
Red tailed hawk
On its perch
A Hypnotic beauty
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