First Flight
by Michael Lanty

Shea was proud of the two eggs she had laid in the nest high up in the old mesquite tree. She wasn’t too sure about the overall location, right next to a busy highway, but, she hoped for the best. The west Texas sun beat down upon her day after day but, she felt good. And then came the day, June 26th, that she heard a slight tapping from the first egg. Followed closely by tapping from the second. Her heart swelled to hear her babies beginning to stir. It wasn’t long before the two little baby hawks began to break out of their shells. She watched as the first, a male she named Chayton, appeared and then Gavina the female broke free of her egg. She tucked them beneath her for a while to protect them, then after a warning to be still and quiet she flew off to find their first meal. That first meal was easy to find as the Texas heat and fields of grasses provided swarms of bugs and big juicy grasshoppers.

Shea had noticed one of the many cars that sped by each day had stopped on the day of the hatching. The human had gotten out and watched her on the nest for just a couple of minutes then drove off. Then on July 6th she noticed the same human once again watching as her white down covered babies made their first appearance. She was a little nervous but relaxed as the human left once again after only a couple of minutes and had made no aggressive moves. The human returned regularly and by July 9th she was used to him, and it seemed that he was the only human to even notice her and her babies.

Chayton and Gavina grew fast on their high protein diet and by July 24th Shea didn’t even mind the human watching as she brought a big grasshopper to the babies. He enjoyed the sounds of the babies calling their mother and her answers. Then on July 28th she brought them a nice piece of red meat for a special treat, once again ignoring her human audience of one.

Chayton made his first flight on July 31st, short though it was, it was a momentous occasion. He only flew a few feet to an old nest only a branch away. Of course Gavina gave him a hard time about trying his wings with Shea off hunting for food. Shea, upon her return, did scold him for how dangerous his move was but, felt pride in her son. The next day both Chayton and Gavina, with mom watching, ventured off the nest and with little effort completed several short flights.

Only a couple of days later they were both flying off with mom on hunting trips. Within a week they were on their own having learned all that Shea could teach them. She was off now letting them experience life on their own, and none returned to the nest that summer, which saddened their watcher.

Shea - Irish for ‘hawk-like’
Chayton - Sioux for ‘falcon’
Gavina - Scottish for ‘hawk’