Soaring through the cold winter skies of southern Arizona's high desert sky-island valleys in search of prey, the Ferruginous Hawk is the largest of all the North American raptors. Stunningly regal in its stiff-winged flight this Buteo rules the fallow fields it stalks in search of prey. At around two feet long, with just under a six-foot wingspan, this hawk is similar in size to the Upland Buzzard of Central Asia, its distant relative. In the late Pleistocene, they shared the skies over the Alaska Siberia land bridge. Today, the species dominates its realm alone.
The high desert of southern Arizona is home to the largest diversity of animal life in the United States. Within that ecosystem, the Ferruginous Hawk sits as the top predator in the sky. Pity the poor prairie dog or jackrabbit that gets caught in its talons. To see one perched on one of the numerous utility poles that line the primitive roads around Whitewater Draw is a revelation. To watch one in flight is doubly so.
I remain humbly thankful to God for granting me the opportunity to witness the beauty of the high desert region and share it with others. I am blessed to be His scribe.
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