Friday, July 17, 2009

Crooked Crests, Hawk, and Dove

The cardinals from the Carolina Jessamine have fledged. Two of the fluffy things are practicing their hops in the grass in front of the fallen jessamine inside which their nest is hidden. They look startled and unkempt, with disheveled brown feathers, short tails,and crooked crests. Only their bright red beaks are fully developed, not unlike adolescent boys whose front teeth are too big for their heads. The sleek-headed mother stands by, watching, protecting. I think I can see pride in her posture. She hops over to the impatiens under the birdbath and shows them how to snatch and eat the blossoms. Sure enough, both fledgelings follow suit. Velvety red petals dangling from giant red beaks are a stark contrast to the otherwise scruffy brown picture these fledglings make.

High overhead another fledgling, a mourning dove, flies to a pine bough. Through binoculars I can see its pale pink feathers, its long neck and heavy head, reminding me again of that long ago encounter with the hawk in the driveway, tearing and eating the flesh of a live dove nestling, still struggling for its life, caught in the talons of the hawk. I cannot eradicate the horrid snapshot memory of that heavy bobbing head gasping for life at the hawk's mercy, and losing. dkm

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