Postcard: Red-Tailed Hawk

Gliding across the desert and over cultivated fields, the red-tailed hawk was common both prehistorically and in modern times. Ethnographic accounts show that feathers from red-tailed hawks were used for fletching arrows as well as for ceremonial headdresses. Nestlings would sometimes be removed from saguaro nests and transported back to habitation areas where the red-tailed hawks would be raised for one or two years for use of their feathers, and then released. The death of a hawk was considered extremely unlucky by those who raised these birds (Rea 1983, 2007). The bone tube pictured was recovered during data recovery efforts associated with ACS’ work for the Valley Metro Light Rail Project; analyses and report production for the project are currently underway. The bone tube was manufactured from a red-tailed hawk femur and includes two perforations that would have been used to string the tube so it could be attached to clothing or worn as an ornament. The artifact was found in association with a prepared hearth from La Plaza (U:9:165[ASM]).

The hawk, drawn by Jennifer Bower, B.A, was rendered from a photo using graphite and colored pencils. The artifact photo, by Michael Droz, M.A., was digitally superimposed onto the illustration to provide a direct reference for the artifacts’ anatomical position.

Andrea Gregory, M.A., is ACS’ lead faunal analyst. She has been involved with both faunal and shell analysis since 1996, and has conducted analyses for projects spanning the Southwest, including Utah, New Mexico, and throughout Arizona.

Jennifer Bower is an assistant faunal analyst, and ACS’ lead illustrator. A recent example of her work, a watercolor of the San Xavier Mission, graces the cover of our San Xavier Farm Rehabilitation Project report, while stippled ink versions form chapter headings.