Friday, November 26, 2010

Remnants

What you're looking at is the bloodied remnants of a dove. Moments before I took this photo I had walked upon an incredible occurrence- one that happens rarely to anyone. I had just returned home from the grocery store and was walking to check the mailbox when I noticed, right before me in my own front yard, a Cooper's hawk resting aggressively upon a lifeless white-winged dove. Naturally I immediately froze where I stood not believing my good fortune. The hawk, not wanting to forsake its lunch, just stood and glared at me, acknowledged my presence, and then went right back to plucking feathers from the stagnant bird. I’ve observed these hawks crash numerous times into the local oaks where vast flocks of these meaty “pigeons” roost. Squirrels are also on the menu as I remember once watching as a Cooper’s swooped down from nowhere and snatched one from the limb of a sweet gum right before my eyes. Most people are oblivious to such happenings, which to me, is a shame. All you have to do is pay attention. Believe it or not I was able to slowly back away while it continued feeding to slip into the house and retrieve my camera. I walked out of the front door to see it still busy, when everything went downhill. For some odd reason our postman decided to deliver our mail earlier than usual which brought about the barking and howls of every neighborhood canine in earshot. That provided the necessary incentive for the feathered predator to grab his meal and finish it elsewhere undisturbed. I stood with mouth agape as it lifted the dove in its talons and disappeared in the distance leaving behind this tuft of feathers as the only evidence- without me getting a single photo to make this entry complete.

Witnessing the raw nature of an “animal kill” such as this, may seem gruesome to some, but in my mind it portrays the predator’s skill at finding, observing, and studying its prey, and knowing the precise moment to make its move for the capture, takedown, and kill, all of which is necessary in order for it to survive for one more day. To the naturalist, experiences such as this are indeed rare and indeed cherished. Even without a photo…….

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