Monday, May 4, 2009

LOOKING FOR RESPECT

Life can be trying. Even a regal Cooper’s hawk must suffer the occasional demoralizing round of respectability issues. As is so often the case in these matters, they occur when you least expect them. Here you are, jetting around the neighborhood hunting circuit in your best stealth mode, dropping unannounced into the midst of your favorite birding hotspots…and gloating with pride as your fearsome visage strikes instant fear in the hearts of those who often shortly become prey. You’re having a swell time—shocking, intimidating, terrorizing. Plus you get the occasional warm snack. What fun! What glorious bloody fun! And then you notice…some of your fellow citizens simply refuse to take you seriously. Was it something you did? Someone you ate? What unknown faux pas initiated your obvious fall from grace. Aren’t you still the noble, awesome Cooper’s hawk? Mr. Death-On-the-Wing? Well, nope. Not if you’ve just landed on the Christmas tree now recycled as a handy refuge for those sparrows and finches regularly startled by your sudden attacks—only to find the other bird in the yard happens to be a Canada goose. A goose who apparently wrote the book on belligerent and certainly outweighs you many times over. A goose which watched you arrive, then quickly headed your way—neck bowed, hissing like a viper, showing every sign that he intended to peck your talons off should you hang around. Retreat was indeed the prudent decision. Then, a few days later…same dried-out Christmas tree. You land on the ground—after first checking around for that danged goose—and hop on inside the tangle of branches to see who might be cowering therein in delicious horror. What you don’t see is the grayish blur which races from the corner of the cottage to the refuge tree, sneaks around the other side…and has the temerity—the chutzpah!—to attack you! Egads! Why, it all but scared you witless! And so, once you’d gotten your feathers rearranged, you crouched on the nearby picnic table and gave that ridiculous feline a piece of your mind: Listen, buddy! Didn’t you learn your lesson last week on that gray squirrel? Scrawny cats don’t try and snatch Cooper’s hawks. We are the predators…not the prey! Does it listen? No, of course not. Cats never listen. And this overreaching puss wouldn't even deign to look your way and take his berating like a man…er, cat. In your face one moment, grabbing at you in total effrontery, scaring the bejeezus out of you—and it won't even look your way, acknowledge your presence, say: Sorry, my mistake. That, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with the world nowadays…respect is hard to come by, and nobody says they're sorry. What's a hawk to do?
• • • • •
[And so, with this twofold flourish, the saga of the Christmas tree-turned-refuge [here] ends for another year. As part of yesterday’s yard clean-up the old Christmas tree, dried and browning, was dragged off to its final reward on the hilltop brushpile, having done yeoman’s duty these many months as the go-to hideout for small birds hoping to flee the clutches of the marauding Cooper’s hawk. The birds—hunters and victims—are now on their own until next New Year’s Day 2010, when the next tree, its decorations removed, is given new duties as shelter and sanctuary.]

16 comments:

Rowan said...

What a great post Scribe:):) Cooper's Hawk 0 - 1 Tiger of the Woods. What is the world coming to?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

Glad you enjoyed it…even if the hawk didn't. I guess posting it this way was just a case of my being beset by Monday silliness—which it is and I have been.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: too funny. Cooper's hawks are one of my favorites. This one seems, um, perhaps a bit dimmer than average. Made for a great story, though.

Carolyn h.

giggles said...

Funny!! (Is the cat yours?)

Beautiful coopers.... great pics!

Amy said...

Wonderful, wonderful! This made me laugh out loud! Thanks!
:-)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

They are really lovely birds, as I think anyone can see in the photo at the top of this posting.

As to the IQ question…the hawk really wasn't bothering the goose. The goose simply decided the yard wasn't big enough for the two of 'em. When the hawk went around to the back side of the tree, the goose quickly rushed over, neck extended and low to the ground—hissing I'm sure—and chased the hawk off.

In the second incident, the hawk had gone "inside" the tree, its usual tactic, to see if anything good to eat was hiding there. As soon as it disappeared, the cat came tearing over, ran around the tip end of the tree, and met the hawk as it came out the other side. The encounter went five feet in the air, hawk and cat intertwined, and lasted about a half-second. Then the hawk flapped over to the picnic table, which is about 12 feet to the left of the tree and scolded the cat for maybe five minutes. The cat paid absolutely no attention to the hawk, wouldn't even look its way.

Last week this same cat ran down and grabbed a gray squirrel on the ground. That bout lasted perhaps three seconds, with hawk and squirrel rolling around on the ground in a furry blur. Then the squirrel got away, ran up a tree and out on a limb directly over the cat (which was busy licking its fur and trying to not look like a sore loser) about five feet above its head, and hurled tree rat invectives at the cat for a quarter hour.

I'm thinking these last two incidents were the cat's fault and the goose is to blame the first time around. I will say this…that's a mighty optimistic cat. It's really small and might weigh 6 pounds. But I do believe if it weighed 25 pounds, I'd carry a gun when I went to check the mailbox.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Nope, just one of the four or five cats which prowl around.

This is probably the best photo I made of the Cooper's hawk all year. There's nothing wrong with its wing, BTW, it just drooped it (laziness?) while checking out the tree. I noticed it did this with one wing or the other quite often when it was on the ground.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Amy…

I'm glad you liked the piece. Sometimes I simply write to amuse myself (which probably says w-a-y too much about my sense of humor) and have no idea whether anyone else even understands—let along thinks it's funny. I'm especially prone to this when I'm short on sleep and long on caffeine.

BTW, I just took a quick look at your blog and want to come back for a longer visit. I liked what I saw.

giggles said...

An active imagination is a sign of intelligence...even for old folk, I'd imagine!! (As if you needed to exhibit additional signs....)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Ummm…are you saying I don't need another sign of intelligence or geezerhood? Or both?

Okay, never mind. Asking was a mistake and ignorance is bliss.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

I came to your blog via Adventures in Nature...what a fun first read I had...I shall return!

Jayne said...

LOL... poor thing. And he just thought he was king of the backyard. We all need to be humbled now and again, hey? :c)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Teri…

I'm pleased you found us here and enjoyed your first visit. I hope you keep coming back and liking what you see.

Thank you for commenting. You're always welcome on the riverbank.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

An occasional humbling is good ego therapy for one and all. I know I certainly have my own regular replays!

Actually, I think that cat could use a bit of a perspective adjustment, as well. I'm pretty sure it is convinced that it is a cougar.

Brenda said...

I am loving your wonderful photography--especially of the birds--great stories. Thanks.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Brenda…

Thank you for your kind words. I'm pleased you found your way here—and who knows, a former Ohio farm gal might up and like this riverside blog. :-)

You are truly welcome here any time!