Tequila – Harris’s Hawk
Tequila was bred at the World Bird Sanctuary for educational purposes. She underwent training during the fall and winter of 1996. By February of 1997, she was ready to perform before audiences and was sent to Busch Gardens Williamsburg where she became one of their star performers.
In May 2002, Tequila was transferred to the new Dogwood Canyon venue where she was taught to do the “Hawk Walk”. This is a behavior in which the hawk is sent into a nearby tree by the handler and then the bird follows the handler by flying from tree to tree as the handler walks around the stage area. It takes a very reliable bird to master this behavior.
In July 2004, Tequila was brought back to the World Bird Sanctuary. She now amazes St. Louis audiences, as well as audiences throughout the Midwest with her amazing overhead aerial flights.
Species: Harris’s Hawk
Latin Name: Parabuteo unicinctus
Description: relatively small heavy-set raptor; generally blackish or sooty brown with shoulders, thighs, and underwing coverts a chestnut color; upper and undertail coverts, as well as a one-inch band at the tip of the tail are white; eyes are dark brown; eyelids, cere, and legs are yellow; immature birds vaguely streaked with white on breast and abdomen and thighs are barred with white; their upper parts are more or less edged with a rufous color, and outer tail feathers are barred
Sex: both sexes identical in coloration and markings; males smaller than females
Age: 10-15 years
Weight: 1-2 lbs.
Habitat: sparse woodlands or semi-desert regions
Status: endangered in New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California due to human encroachment and habitat destruction
Range: lowland areas from the southwestern border of the U.S., south to southern Chile, central Argentina, and Paraguay; found east into Venezuela and the interior of Brazil, and south to Santa Catharina
Behavior: 2-4 white eggs, sparsely spotted with brown or lavender, are laid in a nest, usually less than 30 feet above the ground; incubation is about 28 days; young leave the nest at about 3-1/2 weeks of age; will stay close to the nest for another 3-4 months
Diet: small mammals, such as rats and rabbits, as well as birds, reptiles and even insects
Vocalization: generally silent, but will utter a long harsh scream when the nest is approached
- Very family oriented, often hunting in groups; young from the previous year help the parents raise the next clutch
- Known for a behavior called “stacking”, one bird will perch on the top of a cactus, and as other family members approach, they will ball up their feet and land on the shoulders of the perched bird; as many as 4 birds will stand on their backs