Monday, December 13, 2010

Hey, Hawk!

"You thief, you! Get outta there!" I think it was a Cooper's hawk---horizontal tail stripes, no red shoulder, no red tail, medium sized. It would not be deterred, no matter how loud or close I was, which was only a few giant steps from the tree where it was ravaging a squirrel's nest--- and no matter how many indignant house finches flitted around in the same tree scolding.

Silent it came at first, unbeknownst to me. I was fluffing bows on window-wreaths across the front of the house, making my own noise in the leaves underfoot, when I became aware of much small bird chatter in the Bradford pear tree above and behind my left shoulder---the kind of chatter that usually signals trouble in birdworld. I can't always discover the source of the trouble, but this time it was easy. By now all the leaves have fallen, so the hawk, the nest, and at least a dozen fiery red house finches were clearly visible.

When the shouting didn't work I tried to stare it down. It stopped long enough to look down on me, but showed not a care. The finches and I were no threat---they for their size, me because I was bound to the ground. I was surprised at the pluck of the housefinches, actually, and wondered why they cared about a squirrel's nest. But I felt solidarity with them as I tried to shoo this hawk away. Its arrogant response was to hop to the edge of the nest to stab at the interior with its talons, far above my reach. Slap slap slap. Rattle, rattle, rattling in the dry leaves of the nest---while we watched!

Never mind the natural order of the Georgia ecosystem, the food-chain and all, or that our yard is overrun with squirrels. It was the idea of tearing up someone else's nest in broad daylight amid the righteous outcries of the little guys that agitated me. I'm tempted to make a political comparison, but have sworn to keep politics out of this blog. So make of it what you will. A better ending to the post would be to quote the Buddhist notion my daughter encourages.

"Know that it is, but do not suffer from it."

Thank you, Sarah. It works for indignations large and small. dkm


Jane Robertson said...

A sad story but beautifully written. You have such a way with words. I did not know squirrels built nests (we do not have squirrels in NZ). Perhaps I thought they nested in tree holes... The finch concern may have been more at the presence of the hawk than at its target? but I like the idea of solidarity :-) There is a lone native NZ falcon that occasionally circles over my property/ He/she is beautiful to watch but I always worry that the chooks might be a possible target (especially now when I have little chicks).

Would be happy to hear your political comparison!! The Buddhist quotation says so much in so few words. Thanks for that.

dkm said...

Let's just say I'm on the moderately far left side of center, and leave it at that :-) And that I suspect you occupy a place near mine on the spectrum. Am I right?

And yes, that curious mix of the beauty and terror and necessity of birds of prey is something to ponder.

Jane Robertson said...

You are... :-)


Ah, very good story! I liked how the hawk really felt like a character--I have a weakness for animals taking on human qualities, anthropomorphic-ish. And of course, I always side with the underdog!

Thanks for the kind words left on my blog, also!