Eat, Prey: Raptors in Nature

Sparrow hawk, one of a pair, 1736–1774, France
Porcelain with French 18th century gilded bronze mounts
Gift of the Groves Foundation 77.51.1
Info
 

Eat, Prey: Raptors in Nature

Gallery 276

Raptors are among the most finely tuned creatures in nature. Endowed with exceptional eyesight, curved beaks, and needle-sharp talons, these specialized birds of prey seize their quarry with unearthly precision. An eagle can spot a rabbit a half-mile away. Peregrine falcons can dive at prey at 200 miles per hour.

When nature becomes unbalanced, however, raptors can suffer. For example, 20,000 Swainson’s hawks died in 1996 after eating grasshoppers in Argentinian alfalfa fields sprayed with pesticide. Avoiding such catastrophes is becoming a global effort, from reducing barn owl deaths along French roadways to creating “protection zones” around osprey nests in Poland.

This show testifies to our ongoing fascination with these fierce, resilient birds, which miraculously coexist in our midst. Their haunting presence has inspired artists throughout history, resulting in depictions both benign and brutal.

Marla J. Kinney, Fellow, Department of Prints and Drawings

Andreas Marks, Curator, Department of Japanese and Korean Art/Director of the Clark Center 

Rachel McGarry, Associate Curator, Department of Prints and Drawings