THE GENTLE BIRD LOVED BY FREDERICK II : THE HAWK

Posted on March 25, 2014 by Luisa Fazio

Small head, large eyes, sparkling and sharp look, strong and curved beak: it is the hawk, the free and fugitive bird. It swoops down on live preys from above with closed wings, reaching nearly a speed of 240 kilometers per hour. Symbol of power, ruthless predation, elevation. It is noble in bearing and in flight, it was the bird of sovereignty. The wise and charismatic Emperor Frederick the II of Swabia, the stupor mundi, was fond of hunting with trained hawks, to write a medieval treatise of ornithology and falconry, “De arte venandi cum avibus”. He would say: “a day without hunting with a hawk is a wasted day”. He considered falconry a real art. His favorite birds were the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus). Both had exceptional predatory skills and were employed in spectacular huntings. The hawk is also know how to be a gentle bird: it courts the female making reckless developments in flight and to impress her it gives a previously captured prey just for her. It reaches very high heights using updrafts, and rising to the rim. It is an intriguing predator but too high for us to be visible. It dominates its prey and us from heaven!