The Royal Eagle
From my observation spot, very well camouflaged within boxwood bushes, I watch in delight five young foxes playing by the entrance of their shelter. They came out thirty minutes ago, very precautious, when the sun peeked over the summits. Little by little, they became more confident; stretching out in the funniest poses and biting each other to end up chasing one another on the fresh grass that grows in front of the cave’s black hole.
All of a sudden, all five foxes ran at the same time and jumped inside their refuge. Just at that same moment I heard a shriek coming from behind me, such as the one made by a flock of pigeons in flight passing through an oak forest. First I see a huge shadow, exactly in front of the peephole of my observatory. A brown mass fills up the space. It is the royal eagle. With its wings semi closed, it forms a right angle with its body. And instead of crashing and collapsing against the hard limestone, as a casual observer might have feared it would, the eagle leans sideways and firmly grabbed a little fox and flew off deep into the valley.
This is the royal eagle’s favorite hunting technique: the surprise attack. When then eagle flies high in wide circles it is actually trying to gain height, and not necessarily hunting, in order to be drifted by the ascending currents of warm air, called thermals, to reach a position which enables it to fly down unto its hunting grounds. When eagles reach the necessary height, they throw themselves down in an oblique and stretched dive without the use of its wings. Just like that, they can cover distances of up to thirty kilometers. Taking advantage of their inertia gained from their dive, they fly very close to the ground at high speeds, always trying to suddenly appear on the crests and valleys to surprise the mammals or birds that are protected from the hills. A royal eagle, diving towards the depths of a narrow valley at more than two hundred kilometers per hour, is an unforgettable show. And at that speed, the heavy bird is as agile as a hawk; and can cut with a sudden twist, the feint of the most agile hare or the jump towards the burrow of the most cunning fox.
RODRÍGUEZ DE LA FUENTE, Félix.
As in the magazine La Actualidad Española.
Instructions: Select one of the buttons with the letters a, b and c. The correct answer will turn red.