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      Nature Report: Ready to Fledge

      A white-tailed hawk calls from its lofty perch atop a thorny ebony on the edge of the vast coastal prairie in the ranch country of deep South Texas. For nearly seven weeks now, this pair of white-tailed hawks have cared for their young. Initially, there were two downy chicks in the nest, but gusty winds apparently blew one of the young out where it was likely eaten by a predator. However, despite the dangerous winds and the presence of many predators the one surviving youngster is almost ready to fledge. The young hawk now stands tall in the nest and frequently exercises its wings as it prepares to fly. For the first few weeks the parents dutifully delivered a variety of rodents, lizards and snakes carefully tearing bite sized morsels for their young. But now, when an adult soars in with prey, the feeding is swift as junior quickly rises eagerly devouring the meal in a few rapid gulps. After nearly two months of constant care their devotion to their offspring is about to reach fruition, as the surviving hawk is almost ready to take flight. Thru chilly fog shrouded mornings and breathtaking sunrises their vigilance was unswerving. To feed not only themselves but also their young, required long days of hunting, but the primordial drive to survive, reproduce, and renew the species was paramount. I am sure when I next visit the nest site, the young hawk will have joined his parents as they soar over the South Texas wildlands. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore