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Raptors Can Be Social, Too

August 17, 2020

Raptors Can Be Social, Too

- as seen by -

Jason M. Aloisio Jason M. Aloisio

I took this photo as I approached the Mexico border on my bicycle, on the last day that I would be in the United States for the next five months.

Even though they are high on the food chain and have evolved razor-sharp talons and lightning speed, Harris’s hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus) prove that working together can be highly beneficial and elegant.

Unlike most birds of prey, Harris’s hawks are highly social and work together in groups to hunt and maintain territory. With their neatly arranged feathers, unique markings, and coordinated perching and swooping, these two appeared like a pair of world champion figure skaters in the Olympic finals.

Just as athletes train for a lifetime to become Olympians, I felt that I had been preparing my entire life to spend time south of the US/Mexico border, solo cycling through Latin America.

Two days before entering Mexico, however, two tractor trailers were hijacked, and a gun fight erupted between drug traffickers and police at the border just south of where I was planning to cross.

While I was physically, mentally, and logistically prepared to cycle through Mexico, and felt confident that people would generally be welcoming, the recent news from the border, the constant barrage of alarmist media coverage of Mexico, and the worry that my friends and family projected on to me, were all in the forefront of my mind.

Even though I would be alone for a period of time, I knew that I would need to rely on the kindness of other people throughout my journey. I hoped that they would choose, like the Harris’s hawk, to be social and work together.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jason cycled from the Bronx Zoo through Central and South America from October 2019 to March 2020. His trip ended early as COVID-19 became a pandemic. He is safe and back in New York.

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