by Charly Mann
The average red-tailed hawk lives twenty years in the wild. Its eyesight is eight times more powerful than a human’s. Like the song Oklahoma says these birds do "make lazy circles in the sky." They soar very high, and use their great vision to spot rodents, rabbits and snakes below.
They usually weigh between 3 and 5 pounds. Females are nearly 1/3 larger than males. Their wingspan is 56 inches. They can carry almost half their body weight in flight. It is not unusual, for example, for one to lift a duck out of a pond.
Red-tailed hawks are great at reducing rat populations. Almost 90% of their diet is small rodents.
These birds are classified as raptors. This means they are part of the family of birds that eat meat, and use their feet, instead of their beak, to capture prey. Red-tailed hawks, like all raptors, have a sharp, hooked beak, and powerful feet with curved, sharp talons. Their talons are their main weapon for capturing and killing animals.
The Red-tailed hawk is very intelligent and is one of the easier raptors to tame. Throughout the United States and much of the world hawking or falconry is a popular sport in which trained hawks capture game. Red-tailed hawks actually train their falconers as much as their falconers train them.
The female (hen) Red-tailed Hawk is the most desirable in falconry because of its larger size, which allows it to take medium sized animals including ducks and pheasant. They are a very relaxed and friendly bird in captivity, and love to go hunting. They need to be played with (trained) or taken hunting every couple of weeks or they will revert to their wild state. They can fairly effortlessly be returned to the wild before breeding season.
photos by Kathryn Mann
I haven’t gotten to know all the birds that inhabit my backyard, but the cardinals, hummingbirds (now gone), and the Downey woodpeckers have become good friends who I recognize quickly, and often come very close to me. All of these guys have very unique personalities – as different as one cat or dog from another. My Downey couple are the most functional couple I know. They do almost everything together, and enjoy twenty to thirty minutes each day playing with one another. A few days ago they brought their two offspring over – a male (this one pictured) and a female. The adults are small, about six inches, and weigh about an ounce. This youngster is about half that size.
Female Downey woodpecker, hummingbird, and male cardinal in my backyard
Female Downey woodpecker baby.
by Charly Mann
The Aztecs believed that hummingbirds were brave souls returning to earth. I have been able to get close to a couple of these souls recently as they now allow me to sit or stand within a foot of where they perch in my backyard. I placed 9 X 12 sheets of colored paper along a wall behind where they sit and fly around to enhance the backgrounds of these pictures.
by Charly Mann
Cardinals do not migrate, staying in the same area year round. We have a multi-generation family of eight cardinals in our backyard that have been with us for more than five years. The oldest male often comes up to us on our back patio to bring us a seed.
The brighter the red of a male cardinal, the larger territory it dominates and the more offspring it is responsible for.
The cardinal is the state bird of North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia.
While the cardinal is found throughout The United States, it may soon disappear in California because of loss of habitat.
Cardinals live between three and ten years on average, though some have lived for more than fifteen years in the wild.
Adult cardinals weigh around one and a half ounces. They are about 9 inches in length, and have a wingspan between 10 and 12 inches.
Male cardinals are bright red, while female cardinals are buff-brown with a red tinge on their crest, wings and tail. Both have orange bills and black faces.
The Holy Grail is said to have the power to heal all wounds. The legend originates in Celtic mythology. It is about a cauldron, which is a large metal pot, that has special powers. Later, a group of Christians revised the story, and made the Holy Grail the cup Jesus drank wine from at the Last Supper.
We have it on good authority that both legends are fabrications, and that the real Holy Grail is a small red, green, and blue bird that bestows the gift of a wish come true for those who see it.
by Charly Mann
The Indigo or Blue Bunting is one of my favorite birds. They are not really blue at all, but black. Their feathers, however, diffract light, which makes them appear blue. In the wild these beautiful creatures live from four to eleven years. They are very small, only about 5 ½ inches in length.
The male Indigo bunting has a beautiful song, which he uses to attract females and keep up with his babies. The songs are unique to the territory a bunting calls its own. It learns the song from an older male bunting. Buntings return to the same area each year. All the males in one area have songs similar to one another, but quite different from buntings in other areas.
The Indigo Bunting migrates south as far as 2,000 miles to South America, Mexico, and the West Indies between August and October. They travel in large flocks at night using the stars for navigation. The poor Bunting who is held captive as a pet becomes disoriented during migration months because he cannot see the stars.
Unfortunately the number of Indigo Buntings is declining because, while they can see the stars, they, like most birds, don’t see well at night, and many die running into tall buildings and radio towers. The current plan to build hundreds of thousands of large windmills across the United States as an alternative energy resource will be a large threat to their population.
The male (blue) buntings take a real vacation in their warm winter homes. Their feathers turn a yellow-brown like the female, and only a few streaks of blue distinguish the male from the female. The male also stops singing while in his winter habitat.
by Charly Mann
The hummingbird is one of the smartest animals on the planet. It has the largest brain relative to size of any bird, compromising 4.2% of its body weight. I have gotten acquainted with several hummingbirds that fly within a few feet of my head, and they look inquisitively at me as they hover. They also seem to sense my interest in them, as they perch closer to me than any other bird I observe. Some hummingbirds are even known to sit on the shoulder of people they trust.
The hummingbird might better be called the Lovebird because they have the largest heart proportionally in body weight of any animal. Its heartbeat is 480 beats per minute when at rest and can go as high as 1,260 per minute when active. A human, on the other hand, has a typical heartbeat of 75 beats per minute.
Most people would love to have the metabolism of a hummingbird. It has the highest of any animal known to man. They eat three times their body weight each day, and don’t gain an ounce. In fact, the average hummingbird weighs only 0.106 ounces! That is 3 grams. They also eat five to eight times an hour during the day. Each meal lasts 30 to 60 seconds. Hummingbirds love sugar, which comprises the primary portion of their diet. Most of this comes from flower nectar and tree sap. A hummingbird can feed on 1,000 flowers in a single day. They also catch spiders and gnats in midair for protein.
The hummingbird is the only bird that can rotate its wings in a circle. It is also the only bird that can fly backwards. Hummingbirds are exceptionally strong. 30% of their weight is muscles for flight. They can also fly up, down, sideways, hover in one spot, or even fly upside down. They also fly in an upright position instead of horizontal like most birds. They fly at about 27 miles per hour.
Hummingbirds are not found in Europe, Asia, or Australia, but only in North America and South America.
Hummingbirds have more feathers per square inch than any other bird. Many of their feathers are iridescent, which means the color we see is caused by how the sun is absorbed by the hummingbird’s body. This enables the hummingbird to change colors depending on how much light they are exposed to.
Like most birds (except the vulture) they have no sense of smell. They can see in color and have acute vision. Their eyes are positioned in such a way that they can see both straight ahead and peripherally. They are particularly attracted to red because it is the color of most nectar producing tubular flowers.
North American hummingbirds migrate as far as 2,000 miles. Before they begin their journey, their weight almost doubles to store energy for their trip. Many fly 18.5 hours non-stop when they cross the 500 miles of the Gulf of Mexico.
Most hummingbirds live about 3 years, though occasionally they can live twice as long.
This is a Cardinal. They weigh about 46 grams
This is a Sparrow. They are fairly small and weigh about 16 grams.
This is a Chickadee. They are very small and weigh about 9 grams.
This is a Hummingbird. They are very tiny, about the size of an index finger. They weigh about 3 grams.
This is a Great Egret. It is a large white heron that can be found throughout much of the world. It is the symbol of the National Audubon Society.
Their wingspan averages around 5½ feet.
Great Egrets live to be about fifteen in the wild, though some have lived as long as 23 years.
Great Egrets stand motionless in the water waiting for fish, snakes, frogs, or insects to catch.
This is a juvenile Great Blue Heron. The Blue Heron averages about 4½ feet in height and has a wingspan of 6½ feet. They can fly up to thirty miles an hour.
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There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
The great breakthrough in one's life comes when you realize that you can learn anything you need to learn to accomplish any goal you set for yourself. This means there are no limits on what you can be.
In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.
We're not meant to fit in. We're meant to stand out.
If you love life, life will love you back.
Life isn't about finding yourself; it's about creating yourself.
Making a living is not the same as making a life.
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think of you.
I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod, my shadow does that much better.
If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.
Judge yourself by your actions and not your intentions.
Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.
Call it Nature, Fate, or Fortune; all are names of God.
Remember to work hard. Look to the future with enthusiasm and hope. Accept responsibility, not only asking for your own rights, but also accepting responsibility for yourself, for other people, for nature and for future generations.
Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it�s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment.
Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions.
Ethical existence is the highest manifestation of spirituality.
My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to commune with the spirit of the universe, to be intoxicated with the fumes, call it, of that divine nectar, to bear my head through atmospheres and over heights unknown to my feet, is perennial and constant.
One-half of life is luck; the other half is discipline - and that's the important half, for without discipline you wouldn't know what to do with luck.
It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.
Adults are obsolete children.
You will never be the person you can be if pressure, tension, and discipline are taken out of your life.
Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of withering, of tarnishing.
True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.
Love doesn't make the world go 'round; love is what makes the ride worthwhile.
If you're never scared or embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances.
Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
We can't measure out goodness by what we don't do, by what we deny ourselves, or by what we resist, and who we exclude; but we should measure our goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.
Evil (ignorance) is like a shadow. It has no real substance of its own. It is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.
The difference between adults and children is that adults don't ask questions.
No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.
You must live for another if you wish to live for yourself.
Why is there something rather than nothing? We do not know. We will never know. Why? To what purpose? We do not know whether there is a purpose. But if it is true that nothing is born of nothing, the very existence of something - the world, the universe - would seem to imply that there has always been something: that being is eternal, uncreated, perhaps creator, and this is what some people call God.
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.
The shortest way to do many things is to do one thing at a time.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
A life, if well lived, is long enough.
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.
The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.
If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters.
Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.
It's not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of humankind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.
When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no "I'll start tomorrow." Tomorrow is disease.
Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings.
Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you're generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don't make.
The greatest weakness of most humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them while they're still alive.
Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
Overcome your fears and you can reach your potential.
Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.
Six essential qualities that are the key to success: Sincerity, personal integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom, charity.
Only Ideas have long and lasting consequences, and ideas come mainly from books not television, movies, or video games.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations: it is seen with white hairs and is always young in the heart.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.
It's not how much money you make that's important - it's how much money you keep and how long you keep it.
Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.
The only way to change your life is to change your mind.
No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway to the human spirit.
To say that a man is your Friend, means commonly no more than this, that he is not your enemy. Most contemplate only what would be the accidental and trifling advantages of Friendship, as that the Friend can assist in time of need by his substance, or his influence, or his counsel. Even the utmost goodwill and harmony and practical kindness are not sufficient for Friendship, for Friends do not live in harmony merely, as some say, but in melody.
If you are going through hell, keep going.
I have six great friends that taught me all I knew; their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.
Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have guts, the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend. Without people with that sort of guts a free society dies or cannot be born.
If you cannot accept fear of failure, you will never be successful.
The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.
Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
A certain degree of physical harmony and comfort is necessary, but above a certain level it becomes a hindrance instead of a help.
Nothing is as weak as a relationship that has not been tested under fire.
Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.
Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.
There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want, and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.
Money can contribute significantly to happiness if spent wisely.
Money often costs too much.
Passion is the genesis of genius.
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who treat you spitefully. When a man hits you on the cheek, offer him the other cheek too; when a man takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to everyone who asks you; when a man takes what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. Again, if you do good only to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do as much. And if you lend only where you expect to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to each other to be repaid in full. But you must love your enemies and do good; and lend without expecting any return; and you will have a rich reward: you will be sons of the Most High, because he himself is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.
We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.
Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us.
If a problem cannot be solved, then you need to find the best way to manage it.
The greatest wealth is health.
Modesty forbids what the law does not.
Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.
You may think that you are the product of events that are largely beyond your control, but you do control the moment. The present is the time you take control of what your future will be.
Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.
An idealist believes the short run doesn't count. A cynic believes the long run doesn't matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.
Self-pity is our worst enemy.
It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely.
Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.
An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.
Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed.
An intellectual is a person who is always seeking knowledge and has the ability to change his mind when he learns new information.
Materialism is the only form of distraction from true bliss.
To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.