Raptors are birds of prey.
They are the hunters of the skies. The soaring shapes between the clouds, that suddenly burst out of the heavens and plummet down towards a chosen victim.
They are the secret wraiths of the forest, leaf hidden and watching, waiting for the moment they spy their prey. Swiftly through the branches with the ease of a bullet and gone, they excite the senses, that’s why I love raptors.
There are less predators than prey, a rule of nature. Like kings and queens, presidents and emperors they rule the smaller beings, they rule the skies.
There is no half measures with raptors. I love raptors because like emperors, they are both magnificent and graceful.
They cut a dash.
For the Inca, that dark spot present over the highest peaks, found close to a kill, was a semi-god.
The Condor messenger that took the souls of the dead to heaven.
Kites have been associated with scavengers, but these scavengers are the hyenas of the skies, alert and powerfully strong, waiting their chance.
Harriers hunt with stealth, a low-level attacker, with the agility to drop vertically out of the sky. Buoyant in flight they drift low as if they were a very part of the grass.
Falcons are smart, compact raptors. Swift as darts, that strike as lightening does, sudden and dramatic.
Paula and I were driving slowly through the dry Chaco scrub, in-between Paraguay and Argentina. I spotted a white flash and bird alighted on a distant tree and looking at it through binoculars its dark eye patches were reminiscent of an Owl.
We looked at each other for five minutes. The bird did not move, I did not move.
Our spirits joined for a moment and the bird flicked its tail, lifted off and settled much closer.
Still we stared, locked into an ageless search for understanding.
I knew it was a falcon, blinked, and it was gone, into the forest, laughing as it flew, absorbed into the green cloak of cover.
That’s why, I love raptors.