Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cooper's Hawks & Squirrels

I wish I had specific photos for you, but I don't. And we're not living in some alternative computerized universe so I can't take out my eyes, plug them into some USB port in your hip and show this scene to you either. Hmm, put it that way and I feel sort of glad we aren't living in some alternative computerized universe...

I can describe it, however (wait, get back here! I'll make it sort of funny. I mean, death and mutilation can be hilarious in the right context, no?).

Scene of the Crime
Time: 7pm PDT
Place: Backyard, chez moi

We're all busy going about our after dinner activities: I'm checking my email, Max is trying to sneak more slices from the loaf of bread I baked for dinner, Dominic is walking around saying "I loved that soup" over and over again, and FDPG is still sitting at the table, looking very pained, because she hates that soup. Typical after dinner scenario.

Then Richard, who is our ever so fetching Dish Boy for this Act, pauses the Ron Sexsmith CD and yells "Come here! QUICK! Cooper's Hawk!" The kids all rush to the deck to see why he's yelling.

I glance at my emails. I've seen that Cooper's Hawk a million times. I haven't seen that email before. What to do? It's a Lady and the Tiger scenario. Hmm.

I pause.

I consider.

I go see the hawk.

Turns out I made the right choice. In the back yard, perched in a rowan tree, is the Cooper's Hawk. He's sitting weirdly low to the ground, and about 5 feet away from him is a very angry squirrel. I'd even go as far as to call this squirrel enraged. Spitting mad, even. And it keeps charging the branch on which sits our usually very low key Cooper's Hawk. The squirrel is making an awful lot of noise, squeaking and shrilling and rushing around wildly. At one point it charges up the branch and throws itself at the hawk. The hawk almost falls out of the tree and then flies off clumsily. Very clumsily. It perches in another nearby tree, obviously quite confused. It's not every day he has squirrels hurling themselves at him.Blurry Picture of Cooper's Hawk for your viewing pleasure

The squirrel, however, is still hopping mad, and races off to THAT tree, but this time the hawk is out of reach. So the squirrel races off to the nearest Garry Oak and races up that, making a racket the entire time.

At this point we all rush outside to see what they might have been fighting about. I bring my camera for this bit. In fact, as we're all jostling down the stairs, the twins yell "Did you bring your camera?" to me. Now I feel rather indelicate laughing in the face of grim death, but then it was a little on the funny side. "Yes, of course I brought my camera to document a little Death in the Backyard. Why wouldn't I?"At the base of the willow tree, where the kids have their rope swings, is a small pile of white feathers. And one small yellow-feathered beak.

Max climbs up the willow to see if there is any other evidence. There is: a small drop of blood and some more white feathers. The Cooper's Hawk is now off in the Garry Oak. The squirrel is still chattering loudly and madly in the other Garry Oak. They have obviously reached an Impasse. We all stand in the back yard and wonder.

Then Toffee saunters over, completely oblivious as to what must have just transpired right under his nose. He sleeps all day right next to the rowan tree, nestled in a pile of straw in the asparagus bed. He is not the slightest bit interested in our Cooper's Hawk and Squirrel Experience. We try to tell him but he simply flops down on the grass and offers us his belly to scratch. When we ignore him he attacks our ankles. Max throws some of the feathers on him to see if we can get him into Hunt Cat Mode. As you can see, it didn't seem to do much. Catnip works way better.

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