June 19, 2006 @ 3:24 am | Filed under: Nature Study
Seriously, what is going on around here? First it’s the caterpillar horror show. Now it’s dinner theater, Prometheus style.
Father’s Day morning: The girls were gathered around the table in the breakfast nook, enjoying the cinnamon swirl coffee cake they’d made for Daddy, when suddenly a bird swooped down to alight in the grass in our backyard.
“Mommy, you have to see this!” they hollered. They know news of a new bird sighting will always bring me running, and none of them recognized this one. Scott and I peered over their heads at the good-sized bird under the white pine. It was bigger than any of our songbirds, bigger than a mourning dove, gray-brown with white cheeks and a short, curved beak—
“Honey, is that a kestrel?” I asked breathlessly.
It was. (UPDATE: Or maybe not. Sharp-eyed commentors have ID’d it as a peregrine falcon. Which is even better. Because, you know, falcons are just cool. Also, we love the word “peregrine” because of Pippin Took.)
See, Scott and I have a thing about hawks. No drive in the country is complete without a good hawk sighting. If we flash past one sitting in a tree, we’ll turn around and go back for a better look. We actually planned our honeymoon journey around a raptor rehab center in Vermont.
So having one on the grass right outside our kitchen window was pretty much Scott’s ideal Father’s Day gift. We aim to please around here.
Just about the moment we were all exhaling an ooohh of wonder, it dawned on us that this
kestrel peregrine falcon was probably hanging out in our backyard for a reason. There’s really only one reason for a bird of prey to be standing on the grass—standing in a fixed posture with one leg stiff and immobile, as if pinning something down.
“Did he catch something?” I whispered, as if I might disturb him through the glass.
“I think he might ha—” said Scott, and it was right about then that the wickedly curved beak dipped down and tore off a stringy piece of flesh.
Feathers went flying. My little girls’ ooohhhhs abruptly became shrieks.
“Oh, the poor little bird!”
We couldn’t tell what it was. Other than lunch, I mean. Possibly a mourning dove: the feathers were gray. We stood there in rapt horror (so to speak) and watched the
kestrel falcon devour its prey strip by strip.
And of course I ran for the camera. I stupidly zoomed in all the way, so these pictures are a little fuzzy. But I think you get the idea.
Just another warm and cheery morning in the Bonny Glen.
Continuing Our Theme
A Fan Letter to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
“Sometimes I think p’raps I’m a bird”: Naturalists in Literature
Talk About a Rabbit Trail
Fairy Houses in the Cottage Garden