Bird #301 — Harris’s Hawk

parabuteo (from para, near, and buteo, hawk) unicinctus (from unus, one, and cinctus, girdled)

Wednesday, April 4, 1984 — 7:00 pm, just a few minutes after the sun dipped below the horizon

Saguaro National Monument, Arizona — West Unit

Dad had counseling this evening, so Sally, Mom and I had to clear out of the apartment.  We drove to the West Unit of Saguaro.  Near the visitor center, there was an interpretive trail through a small stand of native plants.  We were walking this trail when I decided to take a picture of I don’t remember what.  I do remember that in positioning myself for the shot, I backed into a prickly pear cactus.  I just brushed against it for a second, but it took Sal and Mom about 10 minutes to pull all the spines out of my back.

We drove around a bit, looking at the saguaros, then sat in a picnic shelter on a small rise and took in the sights and smells of a desert sunset.

As we were driving slowly toward the park entrance, I spotted a Harris’s Hawk perched on top of a saguaro in a thick stand.  I set up my scope inside the van and got a good look.  It was scraggly looking, like it was molting, and it had almost no feathers on its head.  It sat looking around for a few minute, then flew off out of sight.

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