track a hawk on what sort of day?

We all know the line “…he can track a hawk on a cloudy day”. But the cloudy part has caused a small debate. One side sez that the cloudy makes it easier (you can see the holes left in the clouds, right?) the other side sez that the reduced visibilty makes
it harder. So SDMBers- it is

“he can track a hawk- even on a cloudy day”

or “He can track a hawk- but only on a cloudy day”?


A cloudy day will be darker, and a hawk would be less distinct against the clouds. Cloudy enough and the visibility in general is reduced. The hawks isn’t going to fly into clouds, he wouldn’t be able to see either if he did that.

ETA: And if the clouds are low enough for a hawk to fly into, he’s probably near the ground looking for shelter.

The implication always seems to be that the subject is an extraordinary tracker, so I would that “a cloudy day” is implicitly harder. The clouds in question are presumably dark, making it difficult to spot a dark-colored hawk against them. It’s irrelevant, anyway–the point is that a hawk is untrackable. It travels faster than a human can (under the relevant circumstances, i.e. a human on foot or horseback, at most), and it leaves no marks of its passage.

This version, on the other hand…

“He can track a falcon on a cloudy day…provided the falcon has a broken wing, and is moulting heavily.”

As far as I’m aware, no.

Personally, I assumed that the hawk in question was flying above the cloud cover, not below or through it. Though I suppose that a hawk would have no reason to do that, since then it couldn’t see all the tasty rodents down below.

I have this urge to watch Princess Bride now.

I thought it was “track a hawk on a clear day”!

As a duck hunter, I can tell you that it is much harder to spot or track birds on a clear day than it is if there is cloud cover.

Tracking a hawk on a cloudy day doesn’t impress me.

Do hawks fly that high?

Maybe I’m being whooshed or I’ve just been wrong for 30 years, but I always interpreted that line to mean “Any amazing tracker can follow a hawk by the imprint it’s shadow makes on the ground while it’s flying, but the prince can follow the much fainter tracks left by the almost nonexistent shadow of a hawk on a cloudy day.” I never figured SEEING the hawk was ‘tracking’.