The Singing Hawk
from Things To See In Springtime
Listen, Guide and young folk, I want to add another bird to your list to-day; another secret of the woods to your learning.
I want you to know the Singing Hawk. Our nature writers nearly always make their hawks scream, but I want you to know a wonderful Hawk, right in your own woods, that really and truly sings, and loves to do it.
It is a long time ago since I first met him. I was going past a little ravine north of Toronto, on a bright warm mid-winter day, when a loud call came ringing down the valley and the bird that made it, a large hawk, appeared, sailing and singing, kee-o, kee-o, kee-o, kee-o, kee-o, kee-ye-o, ky-ye-o, ky-oodle, ky-oodle, kee-o, kee-o and on; over and over again, in a wild-wood tone that thrilled me. He sailed with set wings to a near-by tree, and ceased not his stirring call; there was no answer from the woods, but there was a vibrant response in my heart. It moved me through and through. How could it do so much, when it was so simple? I did not know how to tell it in words, but I felt it in my boyish soul. It expressed all the wild-wood life and spirit, the joy of living, the happy brightness of the day, the thrill of the coming spring, the glory of flight; all, all it seemed to voice in its simple ringing, "kee-o, kee-o, kee-o, kee-yi-o"; never before had I seen a bird so evidently rejoicing in his flight; then singing, it sailed away from sight; but the song has lingered ever since in the blessed part of my memory. I often heard it afterward, and many times caught the Blue-jay in a feeble imitation of its trumpet note. I never forgot the exact timbre of that woodland call; so when at length, long after, I traced it to what is known in books as the "Red-shouldered Hawk," it was a little triumph and a little disappointment. The books made it all so commonplace. They say it has a loud call like "kee-o"; but they do not say that it has a bugle note that can stir your very soul if you love the wild things, and voices more than any other thing on wings the glory of flight, the blessedness of being alive.
To-day, as I write, is December 2, 1917; and this morning as I walked in my homeland, a sailing, splendid hawk came pouring out the old refrain, "kee-yi-o, kee-yi-o, kee-oh." Oh, it was glorious! I felt little prickles in the roots of my hair as he went over; and I rejoiced above all things to realize that he sang just as well as, yes maybe a little better than that first one did, that I heard in the winter woods some forty years ago.
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