Author: Leon R. Power
The following review was contributed by: Paul Lappen: CLICK TO VIEW Paul Lappen's Reviews
In the 1970s, the author was a graduate student at
Idaho State University, working toward his PhD in
Zoology. He wrote a 300-page dissertation on
ferruginous hawks. This book is a shorter,
less-scientific version of that dissertation.
Ferruginous hawks are the largest hawk in North
America. They are also very shy birds, so they are
considered a good barometer for measuring the
encroachment of man. Flying away, and abandoning a
nest, if people get too close, is possible for them.
The author chose to study ferruginous hawks because so
little was known about them.
Several nests in southern Idaho and northern Utah were
chosen for observation. Some nests are set up in
juniper trees, only a few feet off the ground, and
some are set up on the ground. Most of the
observations had to be done from blinds set up a
couple of hundred yards away. The nests are big,
anywhere up to several feet across. The hawks,
especially the chicks, have developed ways to deal
with the sun beating down on their nests (there is no
shade nearby). The nests in the trees are not high
enough to prevent attacks by predators, especially
coyotes, as the author observed one day.
A couple of times, while the adults were away, Powers
would climb up to the nests and feed the chicks
miniature transmitters. These were intended to measure
their internal body temperatures. After excretion, the
transmitters were not found at the base of the trees,
as expected. Adult hawks pick up bones, caracsses and
droppings, and deposit them several hundred yards
away, so the smell will not attarct predators. For a
time, there was a shortage of jackrabbits (the main
food source for the hawks) in the area. Powers was
interested in seeing if the hawks would make do with
whatever they could find as substitutes, like snakes,
rats and lizards.
This is a really interesting book. The author's
passion for his work and "his" hawks shows through
everywhere. For those interested in nature and the
environment, whether actively or of the armchair
variety, this is very much worth reading.