How to Tell a Hawk from a Handsaw

I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Hamlet, Act II, scene ii

But Hamlet, dear, this is easy.

Hawk.

Hawk.

Hawk with squirrel, Riverside Park, NYC.

Handsaw.

Handsaw.

Handsaw.

More difficult in low light and at a distance is to know a hawk from a handbag, or more specifically, a plastic grocery bag.

Many is the perched hawk I’ve seen that, upon closer approach, has resolved itself not into a dew, but into plastic caught in a branch. (Click each photo to enlarge.)

More rarely the process reverses, and a plastic bag metamorphoses into a hawk, and flies.

These metamorphoses from animate to inanimate, from hawk to handbag, and back again, are among the peculiar pleasures of watching urban birds.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2014, Art and Literature, Birds, Hawks, In the City, Wildlife/Natural History

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2 Comments on “How to Tell a Hawk from a Handsaw”


  1. :) Love this! I spent a drive in and back from school trying to decide if the white spot in a tree was a snowy owl or a plastic bag. Since it’s been there for 2 weeks now, I’m guessing plastic bag!


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