A Hawk's Last Dive

     I remember finding a mummified hawk in the top of a date palm at Kurkur Oasis in the desert west of Aswan, Egypt, on Christmas Day in 1963. On retrieving the bird, which was in a diving position or "stoop," I discovered that it had pierced itself to death on the single blade of one of the palm's fronds and became an instant mystery riveted in time and space.

 

Northwest wadi of Kurkur Oasis (left). The date palm in which the hawk died (right).

     Clearly, it had been in its eternal dive a long time for its feathers of brown were severely faded. But how long? What had the hawk been so intent on capturing that in its singular focus it had run itself entirely through?
     The irony is that the palm frond, which may have shaded the hawk one day from the sun's searing heat and glaring reflection off the desert sand, had the next taken its life. How long would the hawk have remained skewered, bleaching in the sun, had I not happened on the scene to bear witness to one of life's many unexpected twists?

©chris maser 2000. All rights reserved.

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