Yesterday John and I headed to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. We used our Attractions Passport and now have saved about $15 above its cost. This is kind of a museum, desert garden and mini zoo all in one. There were some interesting exhibits but the highlight is the Raptor Free Flight program. They have a morning and afternoon program and I overheard someone say the afternoon program is different everyday. Today we had the joy of watching a family of Harris Hawks.
The history on these hawks in the US is interesting. These hawks come from Mexico and South America and so they are mainly subtropic birds. At some point they began migrating into the Sonoran Desert, including parts of Arizona. In this area, unlike many raptors, they began to live as communities and learned cooperative hunting. This adaption was necessary in order for them to survive in this desert environment. Each family has an alpha female, an alpha male, other mature males who aid in hunting and protection for the family group, and the juvenile birds. Each group is ruled by the alpha female (female Harris Hawks are about 30% larger than the males). There usually is only one adult female in each family group as the juvenile females are forced out by the alpha female as soon as they mature.
In this program they brought out five hawks. The alpha male and female and three juvenile males. They were amazing to watch, soaring so close overhead that you could reach up and touch them, though we were warned that was not a good idea. They even staged a cooperative hunt by launching pieces of quail into the air with a small device triggered remotely by one of the trainers. These are beautiful birds and very skillful in the hunt. We probably spent an hour watching these birds. If you are in Tucson and decide to visit the museum make sure you time it to see this program, it is definitely worth it. I don’t think we will get a chance to return this trip but I would go back just to see some of the other raptors they have.
Today is just going to be a lazy day around the rig. There are actually clouds out there today with a slight chance of rain. Tucson is way below their annual rainfall totals so they are hoping for a little. There is another chance of rain Sunday and Monday but only about 20% chance. We are enjoying the sun and dry conditions but for the land’s sake I hope we get a little rain. Hope it is nice where you are.