He is not much larger than either of these birds, scarcely longer than a robin. Because he is a hawk, with the family possession of eyes that are both telescope and microscope, he can detect a mouse, sparrow, garter snake, spider or grasshopper, farther away than seems to us possible.
Every farmer’s boy knows this beautiful little rusty-red hawk, with slaty-blue cap and wings, and creamy-buff spotted sides, if not by sight then by sound, as it calls kill-ee, kill-ee kill-ee, across the fields. It does not soar and revolve in a merry-go-round on high like its cousins, but flies swiftly and gracefully, keeping near enough to the ground to see everything that creeps or hops through the grass.
Dropping suddenly, like a stone, upon its victim (usually a grasshopper) it seizes it in its small, sharp, fatal talons and bears it away to a favourite perch, there to enjoy it at leisure.
This is the hawk that is so glad to find a deserted woodpecker’s hole for its nest. How many other birds gratefully accept those skilful carpenters’ vacant tenements!
Birds Every Child Should Know by Neltje Blanchan
Author of “Bird Neighbours,” “Birds that Hunt and Are Hunted,”
“Nature’s Garden,” and “How to Attract the Birds.”
NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP
1907 by Doubleday, Page & Company