I’ve gone on this same field trip every year for the past five years. It’s always the first weekend in March. A dozen or so of us follow a series of barely-used back roads out onto the plains, searching for hawks, falcons, and other birds. Some years the snow falls, the wind howls, and the birds hunker on the ground. We see very little. Other years the weather is delightful, and the sky is full of soaring raptors.
The lead car gets the best view. Red-tails and Rough-legged Hawks perch on utility poles, kestrels balance on the wires, and Northern Harriers skim the short-grass prairie. The rest of us eat dust and catch glimpses of the back-ends of startled birds.