Posts Tagged ‘red tailed hawks’

To Just Be

I can hear the screeching.

It has been a week now – or was it more and I just wasn’t registering it in my mind? Time gets a bit hazy in these waning years of my life, but, I digress even as I just begin.

Whether on an early morning meander to see what is in bloom, or to monitor the caterpillars munching on milkweed or meadow rue, or while walking down the long drive to our mailbox, it is nearby. I can hear the calls past the way-back’s outcropping of grasses, while adding scraps to the compost pile, watering the deck containers or just sitting with a cup of tea in the “arbor house”. There has been a primeval screeching hereabout; an echoing scream near and far and somewhere in between the boundaries of our homestead.

We could hear it, the antler man and I.

We could hear it as I pointed and he dug into the overgrowth from the hard clay soil of our little prairie patch. We could hear it as we filled the bird baths until the shrieking seemed closer and then closer still.

I looked upward and then I saw it. A magnificent hawk, with its wings spread wide, circling around our acreage, swooping down then waltzing the waves of wind before disappearing above the canopy of trees then reappearing, again and again and again. Magnificent in his endeavors, his dance went further and further afield, over our neighbors’ homes and then further away until his call could no longer be heard.

Uncharacteristically, I did not reach for my camera. I just stood and watched and embraced the moment. Sometimes, it is good to just “be”.



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I saw him as I rounded the bend in the road.

It is really just a slight incline that opens from the small forest that borders our little island of homes. It is a pleasant enough bend in the road as we rumble along to the main street.

I have noticed him several times recently, but, had not expected to see him right them.

I slowed down, engaged the emergency flasher on my car, and watched, hoping no one would drive up behind me.

There he sat, a prince perched on a lofty branch, surveying his principality. He seemed to stare at me, daring me to open my window on a bitterly cold day – so, I did! No sooner had I clicked  – or whatever it is that a cell phone camera does –  when he swept upward, exposing his red tail and underbelly, executed a brief half circle, then soared across six lanes of interstate traffic before he dipped onto the small hill of opposing vegetation, then swooped up to a tree on the other side, prey in his talons. Phew!

 Luncheon was served.

As I engaged my still mocha colored VW with a latte interior, eyes on the road ahead, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but, another red-tailed hawk! This one was atop a light pole, and did not wait for me to capture his likeness. He just lifted up and across, following the west bound traffic on the other side before disappearing from sight.

It was a good day.

I won’t attempt to write about the silly sparrow who chose to shop at the grocery store!



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I was stopped at a red light, my favorite oldies station just starting a song, when I noticed him. Round and round and round he soared,  his red tail seared against the blue sky, the sun catching it as a heavenly flame. There I sat, mesmerized, as the hawk glided, effortlessly, in figure eights; ice skating in the sky.

The Steve Miller Band ‘s words and music was a perfectly fitting musical accompaniment to the hawk’s performance. Abracadabra!

Suddenly, there she was, his dancing partner. Round and round and round she soared, crossing his arcs, a perfect partner in a lofty ice rink. A love affair on high, music below, me and my mocha VW, on a bright, sunny spring afternoon, enjoying the show. Who needs “Dancing With the Stars” when one just needs to look up to the heavens to see nature’s performance.

I cherish these magic morsels of life that happen unexpectedly and make me feel as if I’m dancing on air.

Image source and information on red tailed hawks can be found here.

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The screeching came this summer; mid afternoon ’round three o’clock. Neither of us could tell where it was coming from at first, nor what. I would hear it weeding and watering, especially out back, and Tom could hear it, even with windows closed, up in the barn where his office is.

I wandered back, deep into the yard,, inching my steps, watching, looking to the tree tops for a nest. Suddenly, a swoosh. A large, white underbelly showed; soaring, searching, screeching. My eyes followed it as it hunted, then swooped down, and vanished from view.

We have hawks and other large birds of prey here on the Cutoff and often see them. I’ve watched the red tailed hawks “dancing” in the sky in courtship . It is a sight to behold. They are most often seen atop a branch or pole, looking for prey. In the six years we have been here, however, I’ve never heard them as I’ve heard them this summer, come mid-afternoon, here on the Cutoff.

Image from National Geographic



This morning

the hawk

rose up

out of the meadow’s browse

and swung over the lake –

it settled

on the small black dome

of a dead pine,

alert as an admiral,

its profile

distinguished with sideburns

the color of smoke,

and I said: remember

this is not something

of the red fire, this is

heaven’s fistful

of death and destruction,

and the hawk hooked

one exquisite foot

onto a last twig

to look deeper

into the yellow reeds

along the edges of the water

and I said: remember

the tree, the cave,

the white lilly of resurrection,

and that’s when it simply lifted

its golden feet and floated

into the wind, belly-first,

and then it cruised along the lake –

all the time its eyes fastened

harder than love on some

uninimportant rustling in the

yellow reeds — and then it

seemed to crouch high in the air, and then it

turned into a white blade, which fell.

                                                                           From New and Selected Poems.

                                                          Mary Oliver

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