Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk

The Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk

During the evolution of the hawk species, one particular branch, the males of the Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk, started attacking animals purely to satisfy their own vanity.

The male Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk would build a nest in the traditional manner. Then It would try to attract a mate. The unusual method of attraction used by this bird was not a display of hunting prowess or an elaborate dance. The male hawk would clinically remove the tail from any mammal it could find and then hang these tails from the nest to try and attract a female hawk. Over the years, the squirrel hawk must have deduced that squirrel tails worked the best and so decided it could hunt rats, mice, and other rodents for food, but squirrels should be left alone as their tails were more important than their meat for the preservation of this hawk species.

The male hawk would place the squirrel tails in fetching arrangements designed to impress the female hawk. Some hawks would drape the tails over the sticks in the nest to make the nest more comfortable for their potential partners. Other hawks would hang the tails from the nest, where they would sway in the wind and catch the eye of any passing females.

The unusual behaviour of these birds has also led to a change in the appearance of Ecuadorian squirrels, whose tails are, on average, 65% shorter than in other squirrel species. These squirrels also sit on their tails when at rest unlike other squirrels whose tails stick out behind them when they are sitting still eating a nut. It’s also believed the Ecuadorian  Ground Squirrel may have evolved from particular families of Ecuadorian Squirrels who lived close to hawk’s nests and who were attacked more than other squirrels.

These squirrels confused early explorers who would see a squirrel that had been attacked by an Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk and conclude they had found the squirrel equivalent of the Manx Cat.  Once the explanation was discovered, some Victorian explorers even began to explore the Isle of Man, looking for a Manx Cat Hawk, a potential distant relation of the Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk, but no evidence of this bird was ever found.  

NWW Photo Prompt ~ Palm Fronds

Welcome back to the NWW Photo Prompt!

The New West Writers Photo Prompt is a twice-monthly challenge for writers of all genres. It’s easy to participate — and we encourage everyone to do so. Just spend a moment with the image below and write whatever comes to mind. A couple of lines, or a couple thousand words. Prose, non-fiction, poetry, even a six word story, if you like.

Grand Cayman - Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden - Palm Fronds
Palm Fronds

Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden

Grand Cayman

There are no winners (we’re all writers sharing our words) and no rules. Well, one — be respectful with your words.

You can announce your post with a link in a comment below, or if you link to this page from your post, we’ll publish the trackback link in the comment section of this page. Add an “nww photo prompt” tag to your post and we’ll also provide a link to your response in the next challenge. This post outlines these few simple steps.

To get you going, one of our writing group’s members will have the first go at the prompt. Base your post on theirs or go a completely different way.

Palm Fronds
by Julian Worker

When I first saw this image, I felt I was The Creator at the beginning of The Big Bang witnessing the right-hand side of the creation of our current universe. Photons escape the explosion and start their never-ending journey into the darkness, like a train that never comes out of a tunnel. Patches of dark matter are about to turn into the first stars and galaxies. Matter and anti-matter are mutually annihilating each other and yet why did this explosion, this bang produce more matter than anti-matter? If it had produced equal amounts, we wouldn’t be here. Black Holes, Brown Dwarfs, and Red Shift haven’t come into existence. Atoms that will create us all are being manufactured, and electrons, neutrons, and quarks. The whole of all our existence is here in a dense blanket of seething, boiling creativity. And in this image there is just the first 1 thousandth of a second of time, a snapshot of creation, an instance from the beginning. All this can be seen in a palm frond, if you know what you are looking for.

Happy writing!

Dimples
Dimples

Here are the posts written in response to the July 15th NWW Photo Prompt: (If we missed yours, please let us know!)

Dimples, by Chloe Cocking
Violin of the Sea, by aidyl93
The HSBC Stradivarius, by Julian Worker
Dimples, by Gifford MacShane
Dimples, by Christine Grimard
How to handle dimple, by Jessica
I prefer the cello, but it is still theft, by Patrick Jennings

The Museum of Used Candles – Frisby-on-the-Wreake

This museum in England has been collecting the used candles of the rich and famous for 20 years. The proprietor, Anne Wickham, started the museum in 1994 after a Women’s Institute meeting where she found that all her fellow members found it difficult to throw away their used candles as they were like dear, old friends.

Anne decided to keep those candles and to turn them into a tableau, which she entitled “Growing Old” drawing parallels between the ageing of the WI members and the way the wax had melted and formed wrinkles on the surface of the candles.

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The Role of Research

The role of research in my writing depends on the piece.

My travel articles are all written during and after my visit to a particular place. Sometimes it seems like I am an integral part of the story, such as when I write either about people I have met or about the effect a place has had on me. On other occasions, the story can tell itself without my presence. I don’t or can’t add anything to the story and so the description of the place is enough. My research will consist of writing down my thoughts in a notebook and collating these words later when I return home.

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Safari

The word ‘safari’ brings images to mind of the open savannah with vast tracts of blue sky, giraffes eating the top leaves of the tree, lions lying on a low mound observing their potential prey, and herds of zebras cantering across the plain.

However, the word safari conjures up in me a queasy feeling. To me safari means motion sickness, being showered with stream water, and oxygen deprivation.

Here’s why…

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Jargon

When I undertook the role of Jokemaster at a recent Toastmasters’ meeting I hadn’t realized it was going to be such a difficult job. Especially when the theme is Jargon – I thought I might be downsized by the chair, let go, uninstalled, derecruited, and invited to seek other opportunities outside my role. I realized I had to think big and outside the box. I had to push the envelope, raise the bar, take things to the next level, and indulge in some blue sky thinking. Telling a joke is a two-way street and I had to do it without going postal. It was tempting to pick the low hanging fruit which may or may not be cherries. I needed a gilt-edged, copper-bottomed, member-facing joke that I could run up the flagpole and everyone would salute it. I’d really want 360-degree feedback too. Anyway, I should park my thinking offline. This is a finely balanced situation, weighted heavily towards the members. So, I should touch base with you and keep you in the loop because we need to be on the same page and singing from the same hymn sheet – it’s important there are no disconnects so that we are sending and receiving mixed messages.

Here are some new words for your vocabulary:

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