Spirit Hawk makes rare Grand River appearance

EAGLES NEST/BRANTFORD – The latest resident to the Grand River bird population is what elders used to call a Spirit Bird, otherwise known as an albino Red Tail Hawk.

Like most birds, especially of predatory nature, getting too close or intimidating them in any way could see them move on for a quieter environment.

This magnificent animal is completely white and looks like a snow owl at a glance. But upon looking closer it is clearly not an owl, but rather an adult Spirit Hawk.

Red Tail Hawks are revered as messengers by most indigenous cultures in North America and a pure white one is a special messenger. It was spotted protecting its domain, overseeing the old Mohawk Village near the Mohawk Chapel.

Residents of the area are reluctant to pinpoint exactly where it likes to roost to help protect it from prying eyes which could possibly interrupt its nesting and mating cycle.

It is large, majestic and beautiful against the blue sky as it fishes for food from the river far below.

According to some bird watching websites, the hawk is the messenger, the protector and the visionaries of the air. It holds the key to higher levels of consciousness. This totem awakens vision and inspires a creative life purpose.

It may be what is known as a Leucistic hawk and if there is yellow on the nares (between the beak and the head) it is not an albino, which would be all white.

Although still rare, much less common sighting is a Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk. Leucism is a genetic condition in which parts or all of an animal’s body surface lack cells capable of producing any type of pigment (the word is derived from the Greek word leukos, meaning “white”).

According to studies, leucism is similar to albinism and is frequently mistaken for it, however; albinos lack the ability to create melanin, one specific type of pigment. Leucistic individuals usually have normal eye colour, unlike albinos, which generally have red eyes.

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