Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Free as a Bird.

Never once in my life did I stop to think about how sad birds sound when they sing from tree branches.

Not until today, that is.

A co-worker and I were walking out to my car for lunch when something rushed into the thick in front of us. Though she only heard the sound of something large entering the foliage (and saw the subsequent thrashing of leaves), I actually saw the act.

It was a large brown bird — surely not a hawk — possibly a seagull with some brown tinting.

But as soon as she asked "What was that?" the thing emerged again, large beak and all just a foot from our feet as it leapt into the air, carrying a much smaller bird in its talons.

It was, indeed, a hawk. And the most up-close view I've ever had of one, at that. And though, yes, it was cool to look at (even if only for a flash), I spent the rest of my lunch break thinking about the horror I'd just seen.

I mean, I realize everything has to eat, and hawks are by nature carnivores. They can't help it. It's what they do.

Add to that they're one of the most interesting birds to behold, and it's hard to begrudge them their instinct.

But, still, there's a part of me that can't stop seeing that other bird — not much bigger than a sparrow — carried supine through the air. Can't stop hearing its mate crying, loudly, from a nearby tree. Or the other birds that chimed in, suddenly appearing from the tops of light poles and lamp posts, singing what may very well have been a funeral march.


Michael K said...

A few years back I would see the remains of pigeons from time to time on the sidewalk on the way to work. They were mutilated pretty badly and I thought it was the work of a crazy person. Then one day I saw a hawk tearing the feathers off of its recent catch and I was actually reieved that my previous assummption was wrong.

ds said...

of course I'm in a little more rural setting, but it's always been a red letter day for me to see a hawk take another bird in midair. it's a hell of a show. one of my favorite ways to see animals live and die.


Academic Advisor said...

Isn't it funny how we, omnivores who eat other animals as well as anything else we can get, almost always feel horror at such a sight? Surely we should understand the plight of the predator as more similar to our own and congratulate him or her on a meal well earned, right? But we don't. Because while it is true that it is the nature of raptors to catch and eat small animals, it is also the nature of humans to sympathize with victims and lament death. To the hawk, the little brown bird was only a meal, but to you, it was a life. It almost makes you want to become a vegetarian, doesn't it?

On a side note, we have raptors all over the place here. I've never seen so many and so easily. I love to go for walks and see how many I can see at one time. When are you going to come visit?

XOXO said...

I was watching the discovery channel the other day. I was actually somewhat saddened when a hawk took a young meerkat...Of course the meerkat had a name and the narrator seemed depressed, but still.

Stacy said...

the mourning doves cry
as I walk to the mailbox each morning
now I know why

radialrelish said...

I congratulate the hawk on its catch, and disparage myself no less of the little one's satisfaction.

Pamela said...

written so well --- and I have also experienced the same.

One that didn't bother me so much was having one grab a snake nearby and take off for the wild blue with that snake wiggling in it's talons.

I wondered if it was a rattler --

Woodrow said...

I once saw a hawk take a mature cock pheasant that we had flushed. Even though I'm partial to the pheasant, THAT was cool.