Inspirations from a family of Harris Hawks

Let me introduce to you my husband Eric Peterson. While I love English and the arts, he is a talented engineer who loves how any type of systems work, how they function and interact; be it biological or mechanical. I love seeing life through both of our eyes together. recently he did a study on these amazing Harris Hawks and was gracious enough to publish it in my blog. (Thank you hubby!)

It is amazing to reflect on the simple lessons of life that are highlighted in nature all around us. This spring break, our family visited the Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson Arizona. Although I personally don’t like the desert, the museum has given me an appreciation of the diversity of life found in the harsh landscape.

One of the display’s at the Museum was a live demonstration of a Family of Harris Hawks. The display showed a family of Harris hawks that were soaring above the desert floor showing off what majestic birds they are.

At the opening of the program one of the hawks began to soar about 300 feet above the desert landscape. With the hawk’s keen sight, the bird saw the signal that was given from the trainer. The majestic creature tucked its wings into a dive position and began its fast decent. It pasted at rocket speed just feet above the audience to the trainer who had a scrumptious morsel.

Harris Hawks work together as a family unit. In the presentation, the spokes person for the program raised the audience’s awareness that this presentation is staged over a real desert. If the birds disappear for a little while, it is OK, it’s just that instincts have kicked into gear and they may go away for a real hunt (not part of the standard program).

Sure enough, in the middle of the presentation, three of the birds suddenly left the “comfort” of their Saguaro Cactus perch to do something built into their genetic code…capture lunch. In a very coordinated event, the family attacked some poor bird located 20 yards away on the desert floor. It was clear that the prey had no chance to escape from the 3 hawks working in unison with each other to assure a lunchtime meal. It was amazing to witness the effectiveness of these birds working as one unit to accomplish a goal.

The display spoke three lessons into my spirit as I watched in amazement.

1. Vision: Birds eyes are designed to be very powerful. First, the relative size of their eyes to the rest of the body is very large compared to most animals. In addition, the density of receptors in the retina is about double that of the human eye. This helps hawks see very crisp images (similar to a camera with high pixel count). Their vision is about 8 times stronger than humans and can see its prey from a half mile away.

Lesson – Keep sharp vision and focus on your goals.

2. Perspective: The Harris Hawks kept a vantage point higher than their prey. They used their ability to fly high above the desert floor to keep clear perspective of the landscape and the prey that may be the next target.

Lesson – We need to be able to look at things from a high enough advantage to keep the objectives clear and in proper context. We all know the statement, “Don’t get lost in the details”. Zoom out far enough to see the whole picture. Then, don’t just ask what the picture is, but also what is the picture telling you. There can be historical lessons, understanding of how current events fit together, and help give direction for the future activity.

3. Partnering: Harris Hawks are one of the few birds that work together as a family. It gives them a powerful advantage over their prey.

Lesson – We need to work together with those around us to accomplish our goals. We are all limited in our abilities and what we can do single handily. Working collectively with those you trust, is very powerful to effectively reaching those target we are striving towards. This lesson can be applied within the family dynamic, community projects, and/or work related topics.

Be trustworthy, find trustworthy partners, and work to each others strengths not only “survive” the harsh desert, but advance forward to reach your goals.


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Filed under Inspirations, Poetically Speaking

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