Flying on the Umwelt

On Wednesday Allen Fish and I talk umwelt up at Hawk Hill. Fish is the director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and commandante of its annual hawk watch – in which more than 300 volunteers cycle through shifts to daily count raptors commuting across the Golden Gate Bridge on their Southern migration. While Fish takes passionate exception to anyone who might characterize hawks as mystical, regal, majestic, transcendent, and so forth – “that’s all about us,” he says, “and thinking about the birds that way has never done them any good” – he nevertheless has quite the poetic side and it’s fun to muse on life’s big questions with him. We didn’t exactly use the term umwelt, which has some

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