Monday, August 15, 2011

Omen Good or Evil?

  One of the many things I've learned from long-sitting in the backyard is that when I hear a lot of one kind of birdsong across days and weeks, it generally means a nest of that species is nearby.  First, it's the bravado of the male to attract a mate, then comes the bravado of the male as he protects his nest, (Is there a human likeness, here?), and finally, the bravado of the young as they learn the ways of the world.  

Bluebirds, with their quiet murmurs, are an exception.   The house wren's bubbly gurgle is the most stunning example, and the first to teach me the rule of thumb---but also true of cardinals, nuthatches, finches, and I'm guessing, many others.  

So, it was with eerie expectation that I began to notice, in mid-July, a regular and pervasive whistle of hawk overhead.  Earlier in the spring, before the leaves were out, I had noticed what I thought was a  Cooper's, but think now must have been a broad-winged hawk, sounding a forlorn whistle repeatedly from the tall oak tree in my neighbor's side yard.  I had also taken a snapshot of several large sloppy nests in the surrounding trees that I had presumed were the fickle work of squirrels.

Looking back, I think one of them belonged to that hawk I had observed, because one day late in July, two young broad-wings and their whistles paid me a long visit in and around the trees in the backyard.  I couldn't get very close with my little Nikon Coolpix, but if you look carefully, you can see them both on the same branch in the blurry shot.  Click on any of them for a closer look.  

My good neighbor, Maureen, above whose house the nests are, sent me two photos she took in her front yard of an adult with a fresh kill.  She said it stayed long enough for her to go in for her camera and return to creep up close for the Kodak moment.  She's a far better photographer than I.   Her hawk's tenaciousness, I think, is another indication that it might have been feeding young in the treetop.  Notice the furry tip of squirrel tail behind her hawk to get a hint at what the feast was. 

Maureen and I have decided it must surely be a good and protective omen to have a pair of hawks choose one's house above which to build their nest. dkm 

Whose nests?

Young Whistler

Whistler's Brother


Whistler's Mother?

Maureen's Protector



bibi said...

Oh dear. Why am I worrying about the squirrel?

And I have wondered why I NEVER seem to have Blue Jays anymore? My yard used to be full of them, (they would harrass my little dog) but now I see cardinals, titmice, chickadees and a whistling hawk, too, but no jays. I wonder?

dkm said...

Hmmm---interesting---but they are pesky, so maybe not a bad thing. I'm curious too how the balance works. Do you still have your beautiful blueberry arbor? Come to think of it, we used to have black crows nesting in the trees behind our house in huge families and I never see them anymore---who knows where they went---maybe the hawks scared them off

Jane Robertson said...

I love the photo of Whistler's brother - such long legs!

How wonderful to have a nest.

I sometimes see a falcon (I think) circling over the cliff below my house. The flight patterns are very beautiful, as is the bird. I worried about chicks when I had them but never lost any.

Nicole said...

Beautiful to have these as neighbours!
Sorry for the prey, but that's Life, no? :)

dkm said...

Absolutely. But I'm always glad I'm not at that end of the food chain! Don't think I'd survive long. Not wary enough :-)

Anonymous said...

We get a lot of hawks around here. They are good at cleaning up roadkill. One day I went out in the car and passed a hawk tucking into a squashed bunny. The hawk must have been so engrossed with his meal because when I returned the he was flattened as well.

Jane Robertson said...

Oh, Niki :-( Someone must have deliberately run the hawk down. You can't really miss a hawk and bunny on the road.

Anonymous said...

That's what I thought :( There are young dairy farmhands who hoon around the roads here. And the milk and logging trucks hurtle along like there's no tomorrow.

dkm said...

No, don't burst my bubble about NZ folk! But I suppose the young and the restless are universal----

I think it means Maureen would have had time to go right up and kiss her hawk. I'll let you know what she says when I tell her.

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