Birds of Prey

BY Lisa Lindblad

July 31, 2017

I have become fascinated by birds of prey.  I have always loved seeing eagles riding the thermals across the African plains, but it wasn’t until I saw falconers on the Arabian Peninsula training and handling their birds that I realized just how intimate the connection between man and bird can be.  The gender attribution has rung true through time and across space, for falconers from Europe to Asia have almost always been men.  Until recently.

H Is For Hawk is a gorgeous book by British falconer, Helen Macdonald.   Written with great erudition, deep passion and stunning honesty, this is the story of the relationship forged between a woman in mourning and her goslet. As the young hawk transforms from terrified bird to brilliant killing machine, so, too, does Helen grope her way back into a sentient life.

The Eagle Huntress is a story of a young girl’s connection to her eagle.  This documentary, filmed by National Geographic on the Kazakh steppe, follows the 13-year-old daughter of a 12-generation eagle hunting family as the father passes on the long-held training traditions jealously guarded by men.

Both stories are uplifting, but it is the bird’s intelligence in each that fascinates me. And there is something more. There is a grandeur to the hawk. His relationship with man, as ancient as any between animal and human, endures because of mutual benefit. Macdonald remarks “History collapses when you hold a hawk.”  The falconer and the bird, both powerful and independent, reach an understanding built on absolute trust that allows each to succeed in his – or her – world.

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When you go,

leave your preconceptions behind.

Take a wild imagination,

dive deep into millennia past

and re-envision the future.

Travel is challenging, but it is also liberating.

Photo: The Dead Sea

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Meditations #80