“Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south?” Job 39:26
Hawks by their very nature are reluctant to cross large bodies of water. During migration they must find land routes between their breeding and wintering grounds. Hawks that nest in Canada are faced with a decision when they reach the shore of Lake Superior. Do they proceed west into Minnesota, or do they head east across southern Ontario? Those that elect to fly along the western shore of the lake are funneled past Duluth, Minnesota and a row of high hills known as Hawk Ridge. Thousands of various types of hawks pass over Hawk Ridge each autumn. Scientists conduct research by capturing and banding some of these birds. Data collected from this research helps to verify migration patterns and population trends. On a brisk September morning my family and I visited Hawk Ridge and toured the banding station. I was allowed to hold a just-banded Sharp-shinned Hawk while one of the naturalists spoke to the assembled crowd. Afterward I walked to the edge of the overlook and released the hawk while cameras recorded the event. Sensing its opportunity for freedom, the bird flew up and away from the crowd for about fifty feet. It then hesitated, as if it were collecting its bearings. Slowly the little hawk banked to the left, gaining altitude. When it straightened its course it disappeared over the ridge, heading due south.
Bill releasing Sharp-shinned Hawk (photo by Marlene Krause)
Reading today’s Bible verse and thinking back on the wonder of the hawk migration in Minnesota, I am still amazed that the birds can find the way to their winter homes each year. How did the hawk I released know which way to turn when it left my hand? The only answer I have to the question, “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south?” is a humble, “No.” As Job said, there are “things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3), and I remember the words of Paul, “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).
Lord, thank you for the wonder of migration and the lessons you teach me as I observe your creation. Amen.