Visiting my mother at her home over Christmas holiday, someone began remarking about the many birds that were visiting her feeder… including one large pigeon. The more they described the bird, the more I had to see it. From the window I saw a very sizable bird that was not a pigeon at all but a Cooper’s Hawk! The visit wasn’t for a meal of seeds but likely for a snack of sparrow. The hawk, perched on a tree limb, hadn’t caught anything; it soon hopped down to the ground just below our window, then took flight, disappearing amongst the trees.
Today I received a phone call at the office and, pacing while talking, I gazed blankly out the window then snapped into focus. To my surprise a hawk was perched upon a brick wall but 10 feet away! At first I thought it was another Cooper’s Hawk but began to think that this one may have been a Sharp-shinned Hawk; they can be tricky to tell apart and I’ve only begun to recognize them. Today’s bird, however, was eating. Holding some unfortunate, tiny kill to the wall with its talons, the hawk stripped bits of flesh off and gobbled them down.
I find the raptors to be among the most beautiful birds both in their appearance and their flight. They also happen to be among the fiercest predators around. It’s hard for me sometimes to reconcile the two aspects: beauty and slaughter. It is, however, their nature and they must eat to survive.
Unfortunately, though my camera was in the room, I was on the phone. By the time the call had ended and I looked out the window again, the hawk had finished its meal and taken flight.
I had vegetarian chili for lunch.