HAWKS UP CLOSE; The National Audubon Society; by Nature Science Network, Inc. (1992)

Hawks Up Close covers 30 species of U.S. diurnal raptors (and one other), is 55 minutes long, is written by Kenn Kaufman, and is narrated by Michael Godfrey. As with Owls Up Close, the quality of the video and content are mixed with good footage and information interspersed with mediocre video and questionable data.

Footage highlights include a Red-tailed Hawk taking a rat and another Red-tail kiting (holding steady without flapping) into the wind. The former is good enough that I am not certain whether the rat was wild. (Could it have been a laboratory animal unaware of the peril posed by the Red-tail? Perhaps, but if it were the same rat later shown sinking its teeth into a toe of a Red-tail, it may have been wild indeed!) The footage of the Red-shouldered Hawks raising young is also good, as is that of the Swallow-tailed Kites in flight and the male American Kestrel and Ferruginous Hawks perched. However, much of the flight footage, especially of the falcons, is so poor that it substantially detracts from the overall quality of this product. For example, the footage of a probable Peregrine is such that I am not certain it is a Peregrine. Similarly, footage described as showing a dark morph Red-tailed shows what appears to be a typical light morph individual.

A questionable aspect of this video is the use of Semi-plumbeous Hawk footage since, so far as I can tell, this hawk does not occur within the United States. I suspect this is an example of the all too common tendency among videographers to use available footage even if it does not readily fit the tape. Nonetheless, some good information is imparted via this tape with examples including the discussion (albeit brief) of the social behavior of Harris Hawk, Norther Harrier polygamy, and how difficult it is for birds of prey to survive in the wild.

An idea that, at least to my mind, would have added to this video would have been to note some of the identifying features of the species shown, such as the belly-bands so prominently visible in much of the Red-tail footage. (This is effectively done in Hummingbirds Up Close, but not elsewhere in this series.)

On a scale of 0 (truly worthless) to 10 (the outer limit of human ability), I rate Hawks Up Close a 6. It has decent video, is modestly instructive, and not excessively priced at $29.95 (especially given that NJAS/CMBO members can get it at a discount).

Mike Hannisian