I almost had to make a difficult decision today. It involved an immature red-tailed hawk sitting on the lower limb of the magnolia in our back yard.
Some background first: Our house bear, whom we’ve named Clyde, has been visiting our bird feeders for four years. He’s close to 400 pounds, but remains intimidated by Luci-fur, our cairn terrier, who occasionally escorts him off the property. When Clyde first visited, he snapped off one limb of my carefully pruned “V” shaped Asian pear tree and ate it like an ear of corn. Then he came up the hill to the feeders behind the house and picnicked on them.
Understanding that, if I can reach the feeder so can the bear, I raised the feeders to a height of 14 feet. They are raised and lowered by loosening and tightening the clothes line supporting them—every morning and evening because there is always the chance Bonnie might show up.
We are not sure whether she is related to Clyde, but she is also very large. The first time she was here, she had two yearling cubs and two babies with her. The cubs scrambled up the posts supporting the feeders and trashed them all. The next time she showed up, Luci-fur and I exchanged words with her, and she chose to depart, though slowly.
So, the 14-foot-high bird feeders are fifteen feet from the kitchen window, and the magnolia is fifteen feet north of that. Nature has graced up with a blizzard today, so I made sure the feeders were full this morning and dumped little piles of seed around for the ground feeders. The birds were appreciative and looked especially attractive with their feathers fluffed up against the cold and wind. The cardinals really stood out in the snow.
Later, I saw that all the birds had disappeared. The reason was obvious. The young hawk sat on the magnolia branch that suffered deer rub this fall. He was close to the feeders and his sharp eyes surveyed the yard for little birds—his prey. We know that hawks have been there before from the dandelion-like blossoms of gray, red, or blue feathers on the ground from time to time. Hawks eat little birds. That’s how they make their living.
I surmised two things. The hawk probably would kill a little bird this wintry day, and, if I banged on the window, he would leave. I stood there for at least five minutes watching the hawk and trying to decide. Maybe I am becoming indecisive at my age. Then the hawk left. Decision averted.
So, what would you have done?
I would have knocked on the window–or maybe walked away and let Nature take its course. I am a birder and love all birds but hawks have to eat too.