When I began my search for Leopold, I asked Witt and his colleagues at UNM’s Museum of Southwestern Biology whether they had any specimens in their vast research collection of plants and animals that might have been collected by Leopold himself.
Witt, who is the curator of birds, took me into the collections area and began rummaging through the drawers looking for a Sharp-shinned Hawk that, according to the museum’s computer database, had been collected by Leopold.
He pulled out drawer after drawer until he finally zeroed in on the bird he was interested in — dry, stuffed with cotton, it still had the sleek look of the lethal predator it had once been.
There was no name on the tag attached to the bird’s ankle, only this explanation of where and when it was collected: Tomé Hill, Nov. 23, 1919.
Outside, as we stood by the UNM duck pond looking up at the Bushtits, Witt spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk out of the corner of his eye as it tucked in its wings and dove earthward, apparently having spied some unlucky prey.
It was easy to imagine Leopold enjoying the sight.