Friday, September 21, 2007

Today's Little Miracle

We saw a hawk this morning, flying over the corner of Sixth and Jefferson. She landed on the top of the brick faux facade of a little, nondescript storefront across the street from the bank. I was so astonished, so delighted, that when a lady came up to admire the dogs, all I could do was blurt out, "Look! There's a hawk on that building! Right there!"
"Your dogs are lovely, and so well behaved," she complimented.
"Did you not hear? Are you daft? I am having a personal miracle of sorts and you are blathering on about my dogs, and of course they are well behaved, what do you expect that they would knock you down and tear out your throat and carry you home with their powerful talons to their nestlings?" I couldn't stay on topic.

In my Life Before Paducah, I talked to the neighborhood hawks. The neighborhood consisted of 450 acres of farmland and woods, and the hawks were
Redtails. Their call is simple to imitate, and I would whistle to them, and they would follow us and whistle back. It occurred to me that I might be saying, "You have heads like toilets!" when I was trying to say, "You are magnificent raptors" or "My butt wears toenail polish" instead of "I appreciate your soaring beauty," because I don't know how to speak Red-Tailed Hawk, but they never flew down and plucked out my eyeballs, so I guess I didn't say anything too horrible. I hedged my bets by speaking to them in Human too. Birds understand Human. Try it out: then next time a cardinal is nearby, tell him you've never witnessed a more gorgeous bird in your life. Keep flattering him and watch him cock his head at you and fly closer. Cardinals, especially males, are as vain as movie stars. Don't say I'm cuckoo until you try this.

I miss the hawks. I see them if I drive the long, boring highways of central Illinois. They are perched all along I-57, and I thank them for making me smile. But in downtown Paducah, not so much. So this morning's sighting was truly a gift. Unfortunately, I was too dumbfounded to tell the hawk about all the easy eats on my block. The squirrels there would provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for a hungry hawk family for months. And they're stupid to the nth degree: it would be like "hunting" for beef at Super Valu! But did I tell my new hawk friend this? No, I just stood there all slack-jawed, mute, worshipful.
I think my little hawk this morning was a Cooper's Hawk. I listened to their call on that link, and I do believe I've heard it - I'm ashamed to say I thought it was a Stupid City Squirrel scolding. But I guess I better NOT try talking to them as I walk along Paducah's streets. I'm already the "crazy dog lady" and if I were looking in trees and on roof tops making a loud sound somewhere between an angry squirrel and a giggling chimpanzee, well, this town does embrace its eccentrics, but that might be too much. Even for Paducah.
I hope you enjoy any little miracles that fly your way today.


  1. When I played the call of the Cooper's Hawk, my whippet came running out of his bed, checking the trees for squirrels. It does sound a bit like a squirrel.

  2. Annie & the Ragtag HordeSeptember 22, 2007 at 5:31 PM

    I spent a lovely 10 minutes last year watching a young Sharp Shinned Hawk playing with a squirrel next to an alleyway parking lot in the Carytown area of Richmond VA. The squirrel was spiralling up and down a tree and the sharpie was following him from branch to branch. It was obvious to me (and clearly to the squirrel as well) that the hawk was not serious about eating this particular meal...

  3. Thanks, Lynne, I thought it sounded a lot like a scolding squirrel - maybe part of its "camouflage"?
    Annie - the sad truth is that I think the Sharp Shinned and the Cooper's eat smaller birds, not squirrels. (Oh NO!!! Eating beautiful songbirds with all that SCS Fricassee available????) Sometimes Mother Nature seems like a child abuser...
    Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  4. We have a Cooper's Hawk in our neighborhood, it has been around for several years. Their call reminds me of a flicker or other woodpecker! Sadly, it seems to prefer cardinal to squirrel:-(



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