Turns out ‘kettle’ really IS the collective noun for hawks in migration. This morning I stood stunned and silent as two dozen hawks soared overhead. Some landed just as silently on the roofline of an abandoned falling-down shack by water’s edge. Others swooped and swirled in ever-widening circles over the vast meadow, rising on air drafts to float, dip, disappear behind trees and reappear once again high overhead. In the course of a half hour, many swooped within feet of my upturned face. I was breathless and nearly dizzy with the sensation of flight, as if I too were airborne.
Their silence was broken only by the twittering of swallows who seemed undaunted by the size differential between them. One would tail a hawk, almost reaching him, at which the hawk would flick his tail or turn subtly to the side to shake off the tiny aggressor. It was not clear to me why the little bird was affronted by the raptor. I however was utterly enraptured by the whole scene. Had it not been time to feed my faithful canine companion, I might be there still, bubbling with excitement at my first kettle of hawks.