by Brett Donaldson
no members of the two families of raptors that constitute the Hawks came
forth during the weekend field trip, I have chosen to write about them
as I feel a strong affiliation with and to them.
To begin with the science of the birds goes something like this. In Australia
the two families of birds of prey are the Accipitridae, which includes
the Kites, Goshawks, Eagles and Harriers. This family is described as
birds with short heads, broad wings hooked bills, large talons and often
seen soaring and the family Falconidae, that includes the Falcons, Kestrels
and the Hobby. This family is described as birds with toothed upper bills,
a dark cap or teardrop check mark, long pointed wings and swift flight.
Collectively they make up what we like to call the Hawks.
For about six to seven years I have been aware of and involved with these
birds. Back in 1990 I spent countless days down at Walkerville lying on
my back, hiding in bushes in the mud and rain with a camera and a keen
set of eyes. These Hawks were Swamp Harriers, I was able to discern the
pattern of flight and time their appearance from where I was hiding. I
was totally enthralled with their activity and was gone for hours and
hours, largely ignorant of the people waiting on me.
Some years earlier I was visiting Cape York peninsular and central Australia
and again I was lost in the activities of very large Hawk family members.
When I was close to them they showed little sign of fear and quite the
contrary there was an acknowledgment and acceptance of each-other. However,
their real significance of this interaction did not occur to me until
Their importance to me developed at a time when I was very ill and confused.
When I finally made it out of hospital late 1994, I was looking for purpose
and meaning with the events of the last months and the new and evolving
life I had just embarked upon. Part of my recovery involved spending extended
hours by myself walking along the beach in that place I have come to call
home. There were countless encounters with such Hawk birds, ranging from
kestrels to large kites, and were similar to the encounters I witnessed
many times as a child.
The two most important encounters occurred at times when I was at a very
low place and questioning the most. One event resulted upon hearing the
squawks of a bird that did not seem familiar to me or normal to that area,
yet I knew what it was. As it turned out there was a large Kite on a branch
over the path, and I watched that bird for sometime but the other people
on the path paid no attention to the noise or the bird. My attention was
rewarded when its mate showed up and they commenced an unbelievable sky
dance, it was almost surreal and nobody else seemed to notice. If nothing
else, this event lifted my heart very high and answered a question in
my head; it also gave me the relief I needed at the time.
The second encounter occurred when I was again in a similar frame of mind.
Again as I entered the beach path on a foggy June morning a large dark
kite moved past me, as if to get my attention. It landed on a branch a
little in front of me. We stood there and checked each-other out for some
time. For the next hour and a half we played leapfrog with each other
along the path. Every spot it landed on was a position where I had often
rested, either on the beach or along the path on several occasions before.
This was amazing as we both seemed to know each-others movements or at
least desired the same resting-place. I do not recall being as excited
or as passionate about anything much as at that moment. That co-joining
on our shared path was the necessary message I needed to continue my development
as an environmentalist. The Hawks now come to me in dreams and meditations
and I find myself using them as metaphors when interpreting or trying
to understand the world around me, I do not seem to be without them physically
or mentally or perhaps even spiritually.
I know when those birds are around; I know when they are going to be hunting
on the cliffs. Our paths cross in the sense that when I need to feel secure
I go to the beach and more often than not they are there hovering and
hunting. Just like me searching for the necessities of life. That full
belly, that feeling of home.
So what is it about Hawks that I can see in myself? For a start they are
noted as solitary birds that soar and seek live prey, however they sometimes
pair with a mate for various reasons that do not always involve reproduction.
Again, some are known to form bands to feed together. They can be quite
vicious and swift yet often present at a distance, observing the nature
and patterns of things. This something I seem to do in my own human way.
Some members are unobserved before it is too late. For me they posses
an inner or spiritual strength that I feel is in myself in a similar knowing
In a different way the Hawk possesses faith, it trusts in the Tao as I
do. For the Hawk and I the path is invisible and the energy of faith comes
from the air, the sun and the play of the wind.
In some cultures, such as the Roman and Greek, the Hawk is regarded as
the representation of evil on earth, often depicted as doing battle with
serpents and an ancient symbol of conflict. Conflict is something that
I am no stranger to. There are also the metaphors of the Hawks as being
tenacious, using their attributes such as their talons to hold on, keen
sight and judgement and their patient hovering and waiting. For myself,
I can be tenacious when need be and people tell me I am patient. However,
I consider myself patient up to a point and then I usually take swift
action or move away.
In indigenous American societies the Hawk is regarded as akin to Mercury
a messenger of the Gods. Their message is often related to being aware
of yourself, your surroundings and the pattern of things, these are qualities
or values I hold as truths. The Hawk and I also share the ability to be
removed from a situation and take an overview of things. The Hawk is aware
of omens and messages that it freely passes on to those that will listen.
Again this is something I tend to do when I am balanced, centered or at
ease with myself. I like and am often able to help others with their problems.
My father often said Brett you have the eyes of an Eagle or Hawk
and a brave and kind heart, but you are swift to strike when aroused.
This is also a trait some indigenous cultures attribute to Hawks.
On a opposing or down side, Hawk people when off balance forget to soar
and allow their vision and perceptions to be blocked out and become emotional
at which time chaos and confusion take over. That also sounds like me.