At a festival, a child came up to me while I was holding Captain a Red Tailed Hawk. In response to seeing the hawk, he said in his country accent, “My daddy likes to shoot those with a shotgun!”
Trying to stay composed I nodded my head, but before I could say anything else he added, “They took off with our chickens!”
Smiling at him, “Did you know that a hawks favorite food is mice?”
“And chickens, ’cause they chicken hawks.”
“Actually, a hawk like Captain very rarely goes after the chickens. But I bet they do hang out around your chicken coops?”
“Yeah, all the time to go after are chickens!”
Smiling again at his persistence, “Well it’s because mice hang out at chicken coops to eat the chicken feed. And where there are mice, there are hawks.”
Intently watching Captain, I could tell he was absorbing this information. Finally, he spoke, “So they aren’t really chicken hawks?”
Joy filled my heart at his realization, “Nope, and it’s actually against the law to hurt these guys or even keep a feather.”
I say that knowing I have a stash of beautiful feathers in my car. Collecting feathers is a small illegal kind of obsessive hobby. It’s illegal in the United States to have possession of feathers from any North American bird species. That’s because if you have just the feather how are you going to prove you obtained that feather humanely.
Since Captain is a male, he only weighs about 2 and half pounds. Females can weigh up to 4 pounds.
My favorite response that I ever heard a child say when they saw me holding a red-tailed hawk was, “Did you know that red-tailed hawks eat lambs? And that there strong enough to carry a baby sheep away?
Nope, I never realized a bird that barely weighs over three pounds could carry away an animal that weighs up to 200 pounds. At least the kid was enthusiastic about hawks.