Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hawk Play vs. Child's Play

Here's a letter I received regarding John Blakeman's essay on 'play" posted yesterday. I totally agree. As I writer [in the past] on early childhood issues, I have often noted that children's play is a very serious business involving practice of adult skills, both physical and social -- just like hawk play.

Subject: So what, really is "play"!
From: Eleanor Tauber


So what, really is "play"! John Blakeman writes [on your website]:

" The hawks will even just grab a clump of turf, prompted perhaps by grass's similarity to the fur of prey animals. Don't confuse any of this with the playful activities of young children. This is not play in any human sense. The birds simply aren't able to much distinguish authentic prey (live small animals) from objects sitting on the ground. The instinctive behaviors to pounce and kill are profound, and after a period of seeing no moving prey, the young birds will be compelled to "kill" something. They drop onto a stick and squeeze it to "death." From our intellectual perspective, this seems to be either play, or misdirected and ineffective hunting. From the hawks' perspective, it is perfectly normal and effective. They birds are continuing to hone timing and muscle/nerve reflexes used in their daily killing. It's not play."

....And “playful” kittens practice non-stop killing. And human children play “King of the Hill” and many games where there are winners and losers, attackers and victims.

Lighten up, John! :-)