I write honest fantasy. Honest fantasy is about real people in fantasy worlds who are relatable, who in their alien place can reveal to us truths about our own place. I use magic, fantastical creatures and imagined worlds to explore subjects close to home.
These fantasy worlds are based on our own familiar Earth. There’s horses and cake, swords and palaces. Sometimes I need to do some research into history, physics, engineering or biology in order to anchor my fiction in facts. This blog series is a peak into the varied and fascinating research which enhances my work. Some might call it procrastination, I call it fantasy facts.
Hawks are birds of prey in the Accipitridae family, although the term hawk is often used where it reflects a common term rather than strict taxonomy.
The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the world, reaching speeds of over 200 miles per hour (320 kph) during a hunting dive. Flying horizontally, hawks more typically travel at 30-50 mph (48-80 kph). They can fly 200-300 miles per day (322-483 km) when migrating, covering thousands of miles each year.
When migrating or searching for prey, hawks can reach altitudes of 15,000 feet (4,572 metres), though the Ruppell’s vulture has been recorded up at 37,000 feet (11,278 m), as high as commercial aeroplanes. At an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,572m), the oxygen content of the air is half that at sea level. At an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,144 m), the temperature can be as low as -45C (-48F). Birds have specially adapted lungs, blood and feathers to allow them to fly at these altitudes.
Hawks have excellent eyesight, capable of seeing not only the visible light range – like humans – but also ultraviolet light, as well as detecting polarised light and magnetic fields. They have five times as many photoreceptors per area of their retinas, compared to humans. They also have excellent hearing.
When you shapeshift into your hawk form, you may be disorientated for a few moments. Take the time to adjust before flying and don’t fly too far, even if you are trying to escape a shipwreck or looking for the secret enemy base.