Today I was witness to an aerial display that left me dumbfounded. A pair of Brazilian hawk-eagles (Spizaetus melanoleucus) were gliding, banking and wheeling around twenty feet from us as we watched rapt at the window. They flew with such precision and poise, with total ease and perfect power, chests snowy white and beaks flashing golden yellow in the morning sunlight. While we gazed on spellbound, the pair finished their fly-by and flew away.
Later, on our walk, I happened to look up and there in the tallest bare tree was the pair of hawk-eagles. They were perched high up on separate branches but back to back so between them they commanded a view of the entire area. Even from around four hundred feet their brilliant yellow beaks were catching the light and their white heads with dark backs and wings resembled the golden eagle of North American imagery.
I now better understand why people so often use the word majestic to describe eagles. They are top of the food chain, they exude assurance of their unrivalled status, their movements are powerful and their bodies are perfectly engineered. I was awestruck and delighted to have seen them again, and being given a second chance to appreciate these birds was a gift for me.
As we watched the pair perched in their perfect vantage point, a flock of much smaller birds flew overhead and the hawk-eagles, who had been tracking their approach, swiftly launched into pursuit. All I could hear as the pair vanished from my view were the terrified warning shrills of the little birds.
What struck me later, as I was thinking about these birds, is that they truly are magnificent and graceful and powerful and they continue to be all those things whether or not they are observed.
And if these birds are majestic, how much more majestic is the Creator who designed their clean lines and finely-tuned flight? If these birds are powerful, how much more powerful is the Creator who imposed the natural laws which allow them to fly without falling, to take a bird on the wing, to wheel and dance with the air currents? And my head was left spinning after my encounter with these splendid birds and with the glorious Creator who fashioned them.
This post was originally published on the 2nd of August 2020 and has been transferred from my previous blog (Brazil from the outside in hosted by Blogger) after some technical difficulties with the site.