Garden Enigma

Early evening and suddenly every bird at or near one of the three bird feeders in our back garden disappears. No bird song. Only the silent flutter of wings as the quiet before the storm passes, and the storm settles on a limb of a dogwood tree.

The resident Cooper’s Hawk perches, facing the house. Its roan-tinted chest plumage reflects late sunlight as the eyes study every piece of the small garden. Its flat crown reminds me, in a silly way, of the flat-top hair style some boys paraded during my youth. But this flat top half crowns two dark, piercing eyes that  search for a meal in our garden, the one where we feed its potential prey for our pleasure, not for its food.

The head moves from side to side and soon the body of death turns and faces the wider, back expanse of garden, perhaps hoping to find food in the larger area. But, when none presents itself, the grey-shoulder hungry one drops to the ground and peers into the thick, green foliage of the gardenia. One hop of grey death flushes a male cardinal that flies low to the ground before escaping to the safety of the rhododendron.

Unruffled, the Cooper’s Hawk takes dominion over our side garden and Doug’s large front yard by perching on the white fence dividing our properties. Unruffled, but obviously hungry, it sits there for some moments before gliding away to expand its search. Within moments of its departure, a fat squirrel appears on the ground below one of the dogwood trees, and birds return to the feeders.

The small, back garden returns to another cycle, one that is an enigma of sorts since we humans attract the birds and squirrels for our pleasure by feeding them, not to provide for the fearsome but beautiful Cooper’s Hawk.

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