In my long commute to Abilene from Mingus, Texas (87.2 miles), I see flora and fauna of Cross Timbers and west Texas plains along Interstate 20. The Clear Fork of the Brazos River is the major river in the area, meandering north of the interstate at a distance I cannot discern from the highway, but within sight of the wind turbines that I see turning swiftly with the wind.
Between Abilene and Clyde, Texas, I have seen for several years a particular type of hovering bird above the interstate that dives down, usually on the median, to take a field mouse. The angle of the sun has not been right for me to identify the bird nor have I minimal traffic to definitely type the predator. (Trucks carry a lot of cargo on Interstate 20 between El Paso and Dallas-Fort Worth and must be respected.) Yesterday, however, at the same spot (about a two-hundred-yard splotch) that I have seen these birds over the years, I was able to identify a Sparrow Hawk (Falco sparverius), as my elusive companion for the commute.
The Sparrow Hawk or “American Kestrel” flashed a rufous back, wings spread with blue-gray color and a rufous tail, signifying a male, as it dove onto the median. Returning home, driving east, the sun on my right side at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, I saw brightly illuminated the plumage and color of this beautiful hawk. The sighting occurred within five seconds, but I will remember this Interstate 20 Kestrel for a long, long time.
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How can we ever think ourselves alone when in the absence of our own kind we have kestrel, oak and four-legged companions about? But we do feel estranged. I have and will feel alone again. Yet, so, and despite it all, our senses become filled with flapping wings, stamping hooves and trees swaying in the wind among ten thousand sights and sounds. Our yearning for connectedness disappears with a self-loss in nature’s rhythm, even along the interstate. It is a kind of sacred hoop, Black Elk once said.
- American Kestrel (bobzeller.wordpress.com)
- Twitchers left disappointed after American Kestrel sighting (telegraph.co.uk)