February 7th, 2010

owl

The world outside my windows

So, after a really BAD night (no, you DON'T want to know. Trust me.) I finally crawled back into bed for another bit of shut-eye at something like 5:30 AM... and then fell asleep as though somebody had poleaxed me, and woke up HOURS later.

This isn't to brag about sleeping in. It's to clue you guys in that I was still pretty raw and woolly-headed, otherwise I might have been faster on the uptake - but - anyway - I got up, and went into the upstairs office, and the cats and rdeck, who had all been up for hours, seemed happy to see me emerge... and then, just as I was attempting sane sequential conversation, I heard a THUD. Like you hear when a bird flies into a window. And then I heard faint bird cries.

I came out of the office and stepped out of the corridor, to where I had a clear view through the French doors opening out to the deck from our dining room.

The first thing I saw was one of our pretty thrushes, on the deck. Okay, bird into window. I was right.

And then I realised that there was a second bird there.

For a moment I thought, oh, I didn't think they travelled in pairs, I didn't think that one would be so solicitous about another which was hurt...

And then I REALLY looked.

And what I saw, and what I finally brought into a coherent frame with those bird cries, was not another thrush being helpful or sorrowful, standing over the one that had fallen. What I was seeing was two birds, indeed - except that the bottom one was the thrush... and the one on top... was a hawk with its claws sunk deep into its kill.

Less than a foot outside my window.

The cries I heard had been the triumphant call of the hawk - Food! Food! I live another day! But underneath the hawk the thrush's eyes were closed and it was lying very still. And its own cry into silence was My time in the sky is over. My day grows dark with the final night.

I watched the hawk spread its wings, its curved beak open, still crying its triumph, and take off, the thrush clutched in its talons.

It left behind a scattering of down and feathers, stirring in the breeze, and a small smear of blood where it had made the kill.

And then there was nothing. Just silence. And an empty feeder in the woods, where the critters who usually throng there were conspicuous by their absence.

I did not hear the hawk again.

I still haven't swept up the feathers, or cleaned up the bloodstain on the cedar deck outside.

The creatures that eat at our Fast Food Joint out on the feeder have become bold enough to return, even if they avoid the place where the remnants of feathery down still cling and wave.

One fierce bird heart beats somewhere. Another, gentler, one is stilled for good. And the sky is empty and cold.