The Big Birds

I will admit that songbirds can be lovely, quick-flighted and spectacularly colorful, but I have to tell the truth: I love the big birds—the predators, the raptors. There is something truly wonderful watching an eagle or hawk eye its prey and then descend from the clouds at lightning speed to nail his or her breakfast, lunch or dinner at that very moment.

As we were being driven up a Norwegian mountain, my wife, the Beautiful AP, and I saw a Golden Eagle soar high above us. He wasn’t flapping his wings; he was being driven by an airshaft. His speed was impressive.

His descent was awesome. We couldn’t see what animal he was hunting because the valley below was so deep, but I am guessing he enjoyed his meal.

Now, many readers are aware that the latest theory of bird evolution traces birds back to the dinosaurs. Yes, that little Blue Jay in your backyard eating the food you’ve laid out for him could be a direct evolutionary offshoot of the Tyrannosaurus Rex; after all, Blue Jays have been known to sever other birds’ heads! They take no prisoners.

The largest flying birds on our planet at the moment belong to the Albatross family. Their wing span can reach 12 feet. That’s impressive. The best eagles can reach is somewhere between six to seven feet. Still quite impressive.

Still these modern birds cannot match the prehistoric pterosaurs. These flying beasts had wing spans at times over 34 feet. These aerial brutes could weigh up to 500 pounds!  Think of the power required to launch and maneuver 500 pounds.

The pterosaur could descend from the skies and eat animals that weighed close to 100 pounds. That correct; an entire class of grade schoolers would be in trouble if these monsters still existed today.

Both cadaverous and full-figured fashion models gliding down runways would be easy pickings for these monsters.

In my mind’s eye, I see the pterosaurs hurtling to earth like a comic book antagonist that Stan Lee created. These brutes would thud, crash, boom onto terrified victims, until a superhero could save the day.

There is one little wrinkle in the pterosaur family, one fact I must now disclose—winged as they were, they were not birds! Thus, our modern birds have no evolutionary relationship to them. They were more like bats than birds and scientists believe they were wiped out in the great meteor disaster some 66 million years ago.

But I do like to look at pictures of them; the great giants of the past. And perhaps one day, they will show up in a comic book.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is Frank’s books are available from, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, and at bookstores.

Bird is the Word


They don’t just fly over your house; they have flown into our vocabulary too. Not often for good reasons; not often for bad reasons.

In England young women are often referred to as birds. In the United States and Canada, young women are often called chicks. Women who have passed their peek are often referred to as old hens or old crows.

If someone keeps repeating something over and over we can refer to that person as a parrot. If your acquaintance is a stuck up, classless idiot, you might refer to him or her as a popinjay or a peacock.

Someone who is considered stupid is often called a bird brain. However, someone who is smart can be called a wise-old owl. But if someone is scared you call that person a chicken or chicken shit. If someone thinks of himself as sexually desirable, he pictures himself cock of the walk.

People who are crazy can be called loons or cuckoos. Or maybe they just go to Florida in the winter and are called snowbirds. Someone who uses cocaine is often called a snowbird as well. Someone who lives in Florida and also uses cocaine is called a dodo.

Throughout our country we have many supposed health experts who are really just quacks. Quacks are the magpies of medicine as they are stealing your money selling bird poop. Be an early bird and don’t let them ruffle your feathers.

If you go to quacks you’d better be eagle-eyed and watch them like a hawk so they don’t steal from you. If they do steal from you then go to the police and sing like a nightingale about their thievery. Maybe these people will be arrested and put in a birdcage so they can’t fly the coop.

The character of Mr. Potter in my favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life was a vulture and certainly deserved the title of old coot. He was probably pigeon-toed too. He was a man who ate like a pig because he could not actually eat like a bird because, in reality, birds eat a lot! I don’t know if Mr. Potter liked to wet his beak from the expensive wines he enjoyed drinking.

I really wished George Bailey, the lead character in the movie, didn’t give a hoot about Mr. Potter but George acted like a silly goose by trying to borrow money from Mr. Potter. Yes, Mr. Potter was always feathering his nest with other people’s money. That man was a bad egg.

By the end of the movie George Bailey was flying like a bird when he found out how many friends he had and, hopefully, all the viewers truly hoped that Mr. Potter would wind up with a severe case of thrush at the end.

Frank Scoblete’s website is His books are available from, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Good Books Defeat Virus

So you’ve been wandering through your house or apartment, looking to elevate your life from this coronavirus pandemic that has changed everything for every one of us. If you have kids you are at the stage where you are considering building a catapult and shooting them into “the wild blue yonder.”

Stop! I think I can help you, and maybe even your pre-jettisoned kids, by offering a reading and viewing list for you to check out. Most of the books are available on kindle or e-books but one isn’t – but so what? A good read is worth a good amount of money!

Wings for My Flight: the Peregrine Falcons of Chimney Rock by Marci Cottrell Houle (available on kindle): My favorite bird book of the 61 I’ve read thus far. It is a gripping true-life story. I’ve read it twice.

Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien (available on kindle): A woman, an owl, and love. A fun, heartwarming and instructive story about the saving grace between a human and an avian. My second favorite bird book.

The next books are in no particular order but all of them are worth a read:

The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman (available on kindle): If you have a parrot, you know how intelligent birds can be. This book will take you through the best and brightest of the winged world.

Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood by Terry Masear (available on kindle): Hummingbirds are amazing creatures but life in the big city can be rough on them. Terry tells fascinating tales of how she has worked to save hundreds of birds in deep danger.

The Delightful Horror of Family Birding by Eli J. Knapp (available on kindle): He loves birds; he loves his kids. This book combines them.

A Season on the Wind: Inside the World of Spring Migration by Kenn Kaufman (available on kindle): The farthest I ever drove was eight hours, a few hundred miles in total. Now look at how far birds can go – amazing! This book shows you what migration is all about. I would never have made it as a bird.

Mrs. Moreau’s Warbler: How Birds Get Their Names by Stephen Moss (available on kindle): I have always been fascinated by names. This book is a fun read that explores where our favorite birds came to be called what they are called.

Birds of Prey: Hawks, Eagles, Falcons and Vultures of North America by Pete Dunne with Kevin T. Karlson (available on kindle): I make no bones about it; I love raptors! They own the sky. They are the true royalty of birds. Pete Dunne takes us right inside their world.

Birds’ Eggs by Michael Walters: No, kids, these are not eggs to be thrown on Halloween. Eggs come in all colors and varieties. Beautiful look at the beginnings of a bird’s life.

Visit Frank’s web site at His books are available on, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.




Not Adorable

They tried to pull the wool, or rather, the feathers over our eyes. But I discovered the truth and it is not pretty. I must share this truth with you.

You may have heard of this: There has been a tale of the on-again, off-again relationship of two red-tailed hawks that live in Tompkins Square Park in New York City. This pair, Christo, the male, and Dora, the female, have had a lot of press and most of it makes Christo out to be the Harvey Weinstein of hawks because it seems he has betrayed his love for Dora.

Now, Dora and Christo had 10 little hawks together and it has generally been thought that mated hawks mate for life—or thereabouts.

Well, the “thereabouts” seems more accurate, as “til death do us part” is not quite working out in this case.

You see Dora had a wing injury that required the services of skilled rehab people and when she was all well and good, they returned her to the park. This was in 2017. However, when she got back lo-and-behold Nora, another hawk, had entered the picture, taking poor Dora’s place.

About a year ago still another randy hawk named Amelia came in for a loving, landing in Christo’s lap (so to speak). Amelia was courted by the gamey Christo and then she also mated with him—and oh-my-heavens, they actually did the deed in Dora’s nest! Yes, now Christo had three females, Nora, Amelia and his old flame Dora.

Such contentment could not last. Hawks are not Mormons, delighting as they once did in polygamy. Dora decided to assert herself, taking back the reigns of lead wife, and she fought an epic air battle with Amelia high over Tompkins Square Park.

And she lost. She was no match for Amelia in battle or in bed (so to speak).

Dora had some serious wounds and had to be removed to Tackapausha Museum and Preserve in Seaford, New York, where she now spends her days eating rats and perhaps thinking of that rat she once loved.

Now the bones of this story certainly make Dora seem like the injured party in a love quadrangle, finagled by two other females and one horny male. But no story is really simple, is it?

According to Sara Dorn’s article “It’s a Coop D-Etat!” in the New York Post on Sunday, May 5, 2019, Dora was no wall flower, suffering from abuse by her mate and his new females. Instead she was a “queen,” a totally demanding mate who had Christo jumping (or, rather, flying) through hoops.

Cathy Horvath of Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation was quoted as saying that Dora was “not a friendly bird. She was the worst patient ever.”

Nature photographer Laura Goggin said that Dora indeed had a sharp personality and Christo “waited on her” claw and claw. It seems Amelia is far less abrasive on Christo than Dora. As far as those who watch Christo and his two current loves, Nora and Amelia, he seems like a far happier hawk.

The not adorable Dora has enough rats to keep her contented and out of Christo’s life. So you see, some stories have a happy ending.

Frank Scoblete’s books are available on, from Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. His web site is

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge


The South Shore Audubon Society has Sunday birding walks at various locations on Long Island and Queens.

One of my favorite places is The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge at 175-10 Cross Bay Blvd, Broad Channel, NY 11693.

This place is beautiful. There are woods in some areas and a 1.5 mile path around a lake and next to the Bay – lake on one side of the path; bay on the other. It is spectacular walking that path.

Off in the distance you can see the wonderful skyline of Manhattan; on the other side in the distance are the beach-front buildings of Long Beach. It is nature and civilization juxtaposed.

Even if you are not a birder, the walk alone is excellent. You will, of course, see many different types of birds flitting about from branch to branch and the great predators soaring into the skies. The “soarers” are usually hawks and falcons, the rulers of the air. Little birds fly in the air; the predators (known as raptors) own the air.

Last Sunday we saw a beautiful peregrine falcon sitting in a tree, near her nest. This falcon can fly up to (hold your breath) 200 miles-per-hour as it makes its descent to kill its prey. I saw this once at Jones Beach. It was dazzling, jaw dropping. Think of driving 65 miles-per-hour and having this bird pass you as if you are parked.

The park is easy to find. Just take exit 17S off the Belt Parkway and go about two miles. The park will be on your right. Here is the website of the New York Audubon Society:

Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.