Sunday, August 25, 2013

Never Realizing The Glory In Their Wings

Two weeks ago, upon returning from my training in Brunswick, GA, I looked out the window of my home which faces my backyard.  I was checking to make sure my yard guy had taken good care of my lawn in my absence.  I noticed some sort of movement in the far-right corner of my acre lot.  I couldn’t tell what it was, but I was curious nonetheless.

A couple of hours later, I took my recyclables out to my Toter® roll-away Recycle Can when I noticed a very large bird, a hawk I thought to myself, perched on the chain link fence about ten feet away from where I had seen something earlier in the day.  I stood there watching it for about 30 seconds before it flew away.

Fast-forward to today.  I woke up fairly early for a Sunday morning and decided I was going to be productive today.  The morning was bright and sunshiny and the temperature was a delicious 68°F.

The plan was to wash my windows.  I started in the backyard.  I had washed two windows and was beginning to work on the third.  I was safely ensconced on the step ladder under the easement when I heard a frantic flapping going on behind me.

Making certain not to turn too quickly (Safety First!), I turned to see this hawk (?) on the ground no more than 10 or so feet from me on the ground.  It was wrestling furiously with a snake.

I have lived in this home for 40+ years and never once saw a snake.  I judged the snake to be about 5-feet long.  Quicker than you could say, “Rumplestiltskin”, the bird had muscled the snake into its talons in a vise-like death grip and took flight.  The snake was wriggling to get loose.  It was a bad day for Mr. Water Moccasin.

Bad day for the snake, good day for me because I never saw it.  I could have stepped on that sucker, gotten bitten and, well…

I collected myself after that Animal Planet episode and finished washing all my windows.  I came inside and fixed myself a sammich and a bowl of Caramel Cookie Crunch gelato.

I went outside to store my step ladder in the shed when, what did I spy, but the very same hawk from this morning.  I tippy-toed backwards to go inside and grab my camera.  I just knew it would be gone when I came back out, but I was wrong.

It sat perched on a big, fat branch and posed real pretty for me.  I had to snap several shots because I was shaking so bad.  I wanted to share its beauty with everybody.

Once I downloaded the pics and settled on the one shown here, I researched raptors and found that the bird is indeed a hawk; a red-shouldered hawk, in fact.

According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it’s one of the most distinctively marked common hawks, with barred reddish-peachy underparts and a strongly banded tail.  (The Cornell Lab doesn’t mention this, but it’s legs are a lemon yellow.) In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips help to identify the species at a distance. These forest hawks hunt prey ranging from mice to frogs and snakes.

The National Geographic Society notes that red-shouldered hawks return to the same nesting territory year after year.

If this bird has a nest nearby or it has built a nest in the many trees on my property then it can help me control the ground squirrel population.  Oh, did I mention I despise the little vermin?

So, now I have a family of bluebirds who have established a cozy little residence in the birdhouse I put up last year.  When they leave, then the darling, little Carolina Wrens move in and set up house.

Life is good and I thank the Lord for His blessings.

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