top of page

I Have a Hawk on my Head

Woman in sunglasses and straw hat with a hawk on her head

Yes, I have a hawk on my head. I met this beautiful creature in Cuba. I think her wings must have been clipped and that makes me sad, because she should fly, but I'm grateful to meet her face to face. As she sat on my arm I marveled at her dainty talons. Of course, if I were a mouse I might not find her so winsome.

I've been drawing birds for years, and I admire hawks especially. I made this drawing of two osprey as a gift for my grandmother. For years a mating pair made a home and raised their chicks in a tree at her home in Sag Harbor. They disappeared for a while, because of DDT. Then they came back. Thank you, Rachel Carson!

[As I wrote this, spell check changed "a mating" into "amazing", and that works for me.]

Pen & Ink drawing of two osprey in flight

This makes me think of my brother, Rob Swanson, a photographer and former hang glider--I think that's as close to flying as a human can get. He told me he once came up behind a hawk in flight and startled him badly.

Here's Rob's osprey. I feel sorry for the poor fish, but that's life; the osprey has to feed his family. Rob said, "You know, in the moment before he died, that fish had a chance to view the world in a way he never had before." I wonder what consolation that was?

For years Rob worked as a photographer for the Burlington Free Press. During the 2016 presidential primaries his shot of a young Bernie Sanders celebrating his victory as mayor of Burlington was on every front page in the nation. Now Rob's concentrating on birds.

You can see more of Rob's work at Rob Swanson Photography

photograph of a hawk with a fish in its talons

When I'm with Rob I'm much more aware of the birds around us. He especially loves to watch turkey vultures soar for hours on thermal air currents just like hang gliders. Or the other way around.

My grandson Teddy said, "I've heard bad things abut vultures." But does he know the vulture's service to the earth? Did you know that when cholera and other deadly diseases, often found in carrion, pass through the vulture's body they disappear? Let's hear it for the Vulture--nature's sanitation engineer!

I continue to find it amazing that every living thing has a place and a purpose. It takes me to the Bible verse my grandparents took as their motto; Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord, to those that are the called according to His purpose."

I'll be writing about 8:28 in the future, about how it offers me great comfort and makes me scratch my head, perplexed, both in the same moment.

Here's another verse that has sustained me in times of despair; "They shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles."

tiny hawk in close-up

January 3, 2019

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page