A great shadow sweeps the ground. A bird. Large, dark, silent – banking into the wind.
Hawk? Vulture? No! An eagle! Spiraling up till it’s just a speck in the sky.
Another day, no shadow – a black dot. Getting bigger and bigger. Falling diving screaming past at unthinkable speed. Falcon! And it’s hit a dove! A storm of feathers whirls onto the grass.
Evening. Eerie flash across the headlights – ghost bird.
For millions of years, these beautiful creatures have lived in the skies. Our very first ancestors revered them. Held them as messengers to the gods or as the gods themselves, embuing them with supernatural powers, eternal life, unearthly beauty. In awe, we killed them, mummified them, coated them in gold. We painted with their feathers, breathed music from their bones.
Today, we watch those same shadows, with the same awe. Eyes wide, mouths agape, we follow a thread of flight. Then we forget, until the next time. We form a string of shadows in our minds, nothing more.
But we deserve more. Because we are the animals who have to throw light on everything. And they deserve more. Because they are beautiful; because they are alive, aloft, and still our magic. Because they are alien to us – and at the same time, not so alien at all: They’re connected to us, through air and water, through bones and blood. And when they get into trouble in this world, soon we too are facing peril.
How do they live? How do they fly? How do their bones hold them together? How do they see? How do they breathe in that thin air, at those fantastic speeds? How do their hearts beat? How do they learn? How teach . . .
In every corner of Earth, small or large, dark or light, in forest, desert, plain, or city – a raptor has carved its place, and does its magic. Take the moment to investigate.