The Red-tailed Hawks of Big Bend National Park don’t spook easily. Last Sunday, on a late-afternoon drive across the park following a day of hiking, I spotted this hawk sitting high in an ocotillo. I stopped abruptly, pulling over on the roadside several feet past the ocotillo. Afraid of scaring off the big bird, I stayed in the car, shoving the camera out the driver’s side window. But the angle was too awkward. I couldn’t get a clear shot. So I slowly backed up, holding my breath and the camera at the ready. The hawk stayed put. I backed up a little more. Still good. I got a few shots.
Then the hawk looked at me and slowly flew away, low over the desert floor in the direction of the Chisos Mountains. It was a deliberate, unhurried flight. It was, I thought, a flight of integrity. A flight of authenticity. I interrupted the hawk’s privacy. The desert called. The call of the hunt.