Thursday, November 12, 2009

Red Tailed Hawks

The pair of hawks, center.

The red tailed hawk is a sort of spiritual messenger for me. A red tail feather signaled a major life shift. My spirit was fading away with a broken heart. I was floundering in a great absence of hope. I had lost faith in all my dreams and did not know how to spiritually replenish myself. That feather came from the North, signaling a new strength building in my life.

There have always been Indians in my life, but none of them were "practicing Indians". There was shame and heartache associated with being Indian, so no one ever wanted to admit to it. Some people I love dearly did not even know they had Indian blood, not until late in their lives.

After that feather appeared, I met people I fondly refer to as "real Indians". It has nothing to do with blood quantum, though I did meet and come to know some full bloods, too. I had opportunity to go into lodge, to sit humbly on the good earth, in the dark, singing those old prayer songs. My spirit rose from the ashes.

When the prairie had been restored on my twenty acres of former farm land, I dared to hope a hawk might find the habitat suitable to claim for itself. Amazingly, three summers ago I noticed a pair had taken up residence upstream of my bend in the creek, but they hunted my pasture.

Since all the leaves are gone now, it is easy to see, directly in my line of sight, the distinctive silhouette of a single red tailed hawk perched between me and the sunrise every morning. It could not be more directly aligned within my sight as I look out this east window. If I pay attention, I will see the moment when its mate flies up to perch briefly next to it on the same branch. They sit within inches of one another for a short time, then both take silent wing in the faint light.


Anonymous said...

For many similar reasons, I have a place in my heart for the red tailed hawk. We just don't have them in the middle of the city.

I'm not sure where they came from or where they're nesting, but we have a pair of ferruginous hawks hanging around. They are spectacular!

There is an open-space park and lake roughly 1/2 mile square just up the street (next to a good sized cemetery. I can't imagine that it's enough habitat for them. I don't see them nearly often enough, but I'm going to enjoy them for as long as they're here.

Jackie said...

The is a male red tailed hawk, named Pale Male who maintains a nest on a fancy high rise next to Central Park in NYC. People were captivated watching Pale Male and his mate. Each year they raised a chick or two. The owner of the building tore the nest down as unsightly, and caused such an uproar (Oprah lives there, so maybe she issued a decree)that the nest was rebuilt, including some fancy accommodations to keep the chicks from falling out of the nest. The biggest problem is the first flight of the chicks. They typically land in the trees below and are watched over by all the people in the park. Even New Yorkers come under the red tail's spell.

Li'l Ned said...

I loved this story. For me, the bird of spiritual healing is the white pelican. They have appeared in the sky overhead at several spiritual crisis points in my life, and lifted my heart as they wheeled and turned -- flashing black, then white, then disappearing for an instant as they circled in the blue sky above.

Once, amazingly, a small group of white pelicans flew just a few feet over my head as I was walking across the footbridge in our downtown park. They skidded to a stop in the water just a hundred yards away, then commenced to fishing. This was a rare occurrence, according to the local bird boffins -- these were young birds, off the usual white pelican flyway, perhaps seeking adventure. They certainly caused my heart to pound and then flutter!

Closer to home, hummingbirds seem to serve a similar function -- reminding me of JOY.

Birds are such amazingly apt and powerful messengers.