Ms. Le Guin on which kind of Sparrowhawk

Extollager

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Over at the "Tolkien and Agrarianism" thread

Tolkien and agrarianism

a question arose about which kind of sparrowhawk, the American or the European, Ursula Le Guin had in mind in visualizing Ged/Sparrowhawk of A Wizard of Earthsea.

Ursula Le Guin has kindly responded to my query about Ged / Sparrowhawk, which I made in response to HareBrain's comment.

She writes:

"It's the common Archipelagan sparrowhawk -- no Linnaean name, because Linnaeus didn't get to Earthsea, but I think he might have called it Falco sparverius Terramaris."

Since the American sparrowhawk or kestrel, that beautiful bird, is Falco sparverius, I think we would be safe in imagining this as the sparrowhawk that Ms. Le Guin had in mind, rather than the European sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).

She adds: "The Kargish sparrowhawk is a little larger, and adapted to desert conditions."

My thanks to Ursula Le Guin for her answer and to HareBrain for the question!
 

HareBrain

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Kudos for asking her!

Yes, falco would be kestrel-like. I'll have to replace the image of the bird in my mind when I read it next.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Since she has lived a goodly portion of her life in the Pacific Northwest, and lived as a child in the northern half of California, I would imagine that she did envision the American sparrowhawk.

My sister, who was involved in animal rescue, had a kestrel for a time. It was a very attractive little bird, though I never saw it in flight.
 

Ursa major

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Not forgetting that there's the same problem with Kestrels: it seems that the American Kestrel is not that closely related (or that similar in appearance) to old-world kestrels.

I mention this just in case folk on this side of The Pond were trying to visualise the common Archipelagan sparrowhawk in terms of its similarity to "true" kestrels.
 

wonkishere

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I think it's great that she responded to your question. I loved a great deal of her work. I was under the impression that she's getting on in years now?
 

alai

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Not forgetting that there's the same problem with Kestrels: it seems that the American Kestrel is not that closely related (or that similar in appearance) to old-world kestrels.

I mention this just in case folk on this side of The Pond were trying to visualise the common Archipelagan sparrowhawk in terms of its similarity to "true" kestrels.
A somewhat similar problem, but on a very different scale! The Eurasian and American "kestrels" are at least both in the same (admittedly rather large) genus, and they both have the general "falcony" look to them and the same sort of behaviour. Long tail, rather straight, very tapered wings, and tend to kill with their beaks, which have a "tooth-like" adaptation for the purpose. Conversely, hawks per se are part of an entirely different order (couple of taxonomic ranks higher), looking more like small eagles (the distinction not being a strictly systematic one) with broader scalloped wings, and kill with their talons.

"American grasshopper-eating hobby-like falcon" would be a more accurate description, but a bit of an, um, beakful!
 

Pyan

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"American grasshopper-eating hobby-like falcon" would be a more accurate description, but a bit of an, um, beakful!
Not to say a little demeaning for a bird-of-prey. The noble Bald Eagle , under that guideline, would be the Kleptoparasitic Carrion-bird...
 

alai

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Not to say a little demeaning for a bird-of-prey. The noble Bald Eagle , under that guideline, would be the Kleptoparasitic Carrion-bird...
Sam the Eagle has both the US Congress and the Muppets stumping for him, so surely he, at least, is safe from such indignities...
 

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