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Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/490

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BROAD-WINGED HAWK.

as I wished it. Its eye, directed towards mine, appeared truly sorrowful, with a degree of pensiveness, which rendered me at that moment quite uneasy. I measured the length of its bill with the compass, began my outlines, continued measuring part after part as I went on, and finished the drawing, without the bird ever moving once. My wife sat at my side, reading to me at intervals, but our conversation had frequent reference to the singularity of the incident. The drawing being finished, I raised the window, laid hold of the poor bird, and launched it into the air, where it sailed off until out of my sight, without uttering a single cry, or deviating from its course. The drawing from which the plate is taken, was subsequently made, as I had to wait until I should procure a male, to render it complete.

The above incident you will doubtless consider as extraordinary as I myself did, and perhaps some may feel disposed to look upon it as a specimen of travellers' tales; but as I have resolved to present you with the incidents as they occurred, I have felt no hesitation in relating this.

The Broad-winged Hawk is seldom seen in Louisiana, and I believe never except during the severe winters that occasionally occur in our Middle and Eastern Districts. I have observed that its usual range seldom extends far west of the Alleghany Mountains; but in Virginia, Maryland, and all the States to the eastward of these, it is by no means a rare species. I have shot several in the Jerseys, the State of New York, near the Falls of Niagara, and also in the Great Pine Forest.

Its flight, which is easy and light, is performed in circles. When elevated in the air, it is fond of partially closing its wings for a moment, and thus gliding to a short distance, as if for amusement. It seldom chases other birds of prey, but is itself frequently teased by the Little Sparrow-hawk, the King-bird, or the Martin. It generally attacks birds of weak nature, particularly very young chickens and ducklings, and during winter feeds on insects and other small animals. It flies singly, unless during the breeding season, and after feeding retires to the top of some small tree, within the woods, where it rests for hours together. It is easily approached. When wounded by a shot so as to be unable to fly, it, like most birds of its tribe, throws itself on its back, opens its bill, protrudes its tongue, utters a hissing sound, erects the top-feathers of its head, and defends itself by reiterated attempts to lay hold with its talons. If a stick is presented to it in this state, it will clench it at once, and allow itself to be carried hanging to it for some distance, indeed until