Posted by: atowhee | August 8, 2018



Life kills.  We all know there is a final act for each living organism.  Some people persist in believing there is a continuation, but there is ample proof that each plant, animal, bacterium, organism, regardless of phylum, ceases to exist as a singular being.  Molecules disperse, energy is redistributed.  Yet most of the time I rarely see another predator except for other people.  Modern life have insulated most of us from hunting, the actual killing and handling of prey. Today nature’s brutal and necessary deadliness was pushed into view, not tucked back in some mental store room.

First, I found collared-dove feathers scattered in our garden.  Feathers freshly plucked and not there last night.  Either an overnight or early morning kill.  Nothing left of the bird that ate, and drank, and cooed and fluttered about yesterday, nothing but feathers.

Later my wife and I walked the dog in Joe Dancer Park.  In some trees lining a parking area we heard young birds calling from an unseen nest.  Perhaps robins.  We weren’t the only one who noticed.  As we walked near the sound which we never located, the local Cooper’s Hawk* flew past and into a tree not far from what seemed the origin of the calling nestlings.  This highly evolved, normally secretive, bird was on alert.  The hawk looked, listened, then annoyed at our presence zipped off into the forest along the river.  But surely he would be back.  For such as he, there is no forgetting that inviting call of small birds in an open nest. Click on any image for full screen view:

Young scrub-jay, awkward at feeder and bird-bath.  Wood-pewee in a treetop:

*The Cooper’s Hawk is named for William Cooper, an amateur but active naturalist in the early 19th Century.  His son, James Graham Cooper, moved west and wrote the first book about California birds, published in 1870. William also discovered one of America’s mystery birds.  The “Cooper’s Sandpiper” was hot by him in New York state and now lies in state at the Smithsonian.  It is of no known species, likely a hybrid. Current science suspects the Cooper’s is a hybrid of Curlew and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers.  A similar bird has been discovered in Australia.

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