Once again, our patio door serves as a window to what’s happening in the amazing world of Nature that surrounds us.
On this particular day, I was initially attracted by the sounds rather than the sights to another turning page in the book of animal drama.
Mockingbirds abound in the surrounding countryside of middle Tennessee and the mockingbird is, in fact, the state bird. Estimates of the number of birds it can imitate range well above 60, and who can say that this savvy sound duplicator is not adding another tune or two to its repertoire even as we take the time to think about this?
Most often, the mockingbird tends to find a lofty location like the top of a nearby telephone pole before launching into its serenade. I love to listen as the performance moves swiftly from song to song, as smoothly and as flawlessly as the symphony orchestra musicians glide through their pages of sheet music to reveal the contents of an entire symphony.
On this day, however, the sound of the mockingbirds could only be described as “fussing” rather than singing. What could have interrupted their beautiful mimicry and changed it to the squealing and squawking of a bunch of irate feathered songsters?
My view through the glass patio doors revealed that the object of their scorn was a red-tailed hawk. As I watched and pieced together the unfolding drama, it appeared that the hawk had stolen or was attempting to steal a baby mockingbird from the nest that was located in a nearby pine tree.
The hawk, his usual song that of a shrill screaming whistle, was silent as he attempted to escape in flight from the diving and shrieking mockingbirds. Their unrelenting pursuit seemed to disorient the hawk to the point of his not knowing which way to exit in order to escape their fury.
The result was the landing of the red-tailed hawk on the railing of our back deck. Yep, there he was—just a few feet away from our back door, perched on the porch!
He was a creature of instinct, seeking his prey and hoping to escape with his bounty. I, too, became a creature of instinct as I reached for my camera—quickly changing lenses to the 300 millimeter zoom telephoto.
I opened the door slightly and quietly, pointing the camera at the disoriented hawk and getting off a series of increasingly closer shots of my subject who (it seemed to me) gave me an absolutely perfect profile pose!
In a matter of seconds, he was gone—the irate mockingbirds still diving and chattering in futility at the audacity of the heartless kidnapper.
End of the story as I saw it.
Now—what’s wrong with this story? Who or what is out of place? The mockingbirds that built a nest in a vulnerable location, or the evil hawk that (responding to its own predatorial instincts) sought supper in the form of a baby bird? Or are we humans out of place by invading territory previously "owned" by wildlife?
Wildlife management consists of management of the habitat. If we don’t destroy the environment or ruin the habitat by overbuilding or polluting, Nature’s course will remain true.
So, the “Green News” in all this is that we have the power to manage properly and to not destroy the landscape in which we humans are only intrusive visitors. I think this is the silent message from the red-tailed hawk that posed so beautifully for this portrait.