Bidding Hawks Farewell at the Start of their Migration

Emily Ness
Updated: September 22, 2019 10:38 PM

For bird watchers at Hawk Ridge, migration means many things.

“There is a lot to be discovered if one is ready, in the world of migration,” Phil Fitzpatrick, Author said.

From moving place to place, to evolving as a species, to soaring and flying to one’s ultimate destination, migration is vast and complex.

“It’s a certain kind of excitement to see things in flight and moving and to imagine where they’ve come from and where they’re going to and I think we can all relate to that. On some level, we’re all doing the same but not with the gift of flight,” Penny Perry, Artist said.

Inspired by their experiences at Hawk Ridge, Fitzpatrick and Perry put together a book of poetry and art called ‘Hawks on High.’ Much of the book’s content is inspired by migration, specifically.

“Watching them lift off and feel the air any way, somehow or other, the feeling transfers to me and I feel the same way that I imagine the bird feels. Released,” Fitzpatrick said.

With 68 poems and 20 drawings, Fitzpatrick and Perry’s book will be available at a number of local bookstores, including Zenith and Fitgers book store. Additionally, both parties have copies to sell upon request.

“The drawings make the book so I am endlessly indebted to Penny,” Fitzpatrick said.

As they say about birds of a feather, Fitzpatrick’s brothers too, are heavily involved in the world of migration—John Fitzpatrick having been the weekend’s keynote speaker and Jim Fitzpatrick having been an environmental educator for 38 years.

“I gave a really good crowd a talk about how birds can save the world,” John Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology said.

“They’re really important ambassadors of nature, great scientific research tools, but also, they call to us in our hearts so they teach us about nature in ways that no other animal or plant can do.”

The speech took place on Saturday night, which the brothers attended. Today, they celebrate a different brother.

“We’re pretty proud to be out here with Phil who’s just published this book of poems,” John Fitzgerald said.

The Fitzpatrick’s say that their fourth brother, Charlie watches birds from his Washington D.C. apartment building.

“Ninth floor or something like that,” Jim Fitzpatrick said.

In addition to watching birds at Hawk’s Ridge, some guests had the chance to hold and release them.

“This is pretty unique because this might be the last time anyone ever holds this bird so I always think it’s a really special moment,” Kaitlyn Okrusch, Naturalist said.

Okrusch, who has worked at Hawks Ridge for one year, provided guests with detailed information about a Sharp Chinned Hawk. Then, she helped one guest release it.

“It was exhilarating. It was so cool! He was so little. We were looking at him in the binoculars. It’s such a big world. It’d be so cool to end up where he’s going to end up,” Abbi Gujer, senior at St. Scholastica said.

Where these birds will end up, no one knows, but the bands that many of them have on their legs have the potential to tell us in time. In fact, Hawk Ridge set a record for the oldest on record Sharp Chinned Hawk, a female bird Okrusch told the crowd about.

“We banded her here at Hawk Ridge. 12 years later, we recaptured that same bird right here and she was eleven years and eleven months old,” Okrusch said.

Part of the beauty of migration is the mystery in it, some bird watchers say.

“If you’ve never been here, come up and check it out. And believe me, you will feel uplifted,” Perry said.

Credits

Emily Ness

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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