Hawk Alert

Hawk Alert

Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle, drizzle, drum.

My cats laid sleeping on the desk and I was working on the computer when a huge flock of migrating grackles landed in the yard about twenty feet outside the sliding glass door.

Both cats, instantly alert, leaped to their feet, making that chat-chattering sound cats make when birds are close by — that curious clack-clack-clack thing feline predators do to disengage their jaw before hunting.

Just seconds later the whole flock of birds lifted and took off when a big hawk swooped in under the pine tree ten feet away from us and landed on the ground with a live squawking grackle in its talons.

Well, let me tell you, THAT caught our cats’ attention in a biggest-thing-that’s-happened-this-month manner. Our girl cat had her nose GLUED to the sliding glass door and our boycat crouched totally motionless watching the hawk struggle to hold a bird half its size.

Immediately five blue jays landed over the hawk in the pine tree, scolding the hawk with a raucous CHAaaa-CHAaaa-CHAaaa. After a minute of trying to get a better grip on the grackle, the hawk took off with the still struggling grackle underneath. As they flew off, the two birds, one atop the other, both spread their wings. With their four wings wide and outstretched they looked like a bi-plane wobbling toward the woods.

The hawk disappeared in the brush in the deep backyard behind the barn. All the blue jays flew up from the pine tree and regrouped at the top of the tallest tree in the yard. They began broadcasting loudly that a dangerous hawk was around and for all to beware.

Our cats and I watched the five police jays on the outside branches of tree as the jays scanned in all directions, warning everyone within hearing distance.

A minute later the hawk rose up alone from the backyard brush.

He circled around the jay tree and the jays quickly scooted to inside branches. The hawk deliberately set himself on the grape arbor right next to the tree and stared at them.

The jays, knowing they’re his prey, too, kept up their warning, but much more quietly under his glare. More like stage whispers, chah-chah-chaah.

I’m guessing the grackle must have gotten away and the hawk was hunting again, because he circled around the tree yet one more time before departing. As soon as he was out of the yard the jays took up their loud screechy warnings again.

As soon as the hawk left the yard, our girlcat stepped through the catdoor out into the drizzle and did that low-to-the-ground, cat-on-a-mission slink out to the thick brush in the garden.

SOMETHING happened out there and she wanted to know what. Was there perhaps an injured bird who needed some Florence Cat-ingale attention?

I went back to the computer and twenty minutes later the girlcat returned, birdless, her hair puffed up and tipped wet from the rain. She licked herself off, checked the yard through the window one more time, then settled back on the desk into a no-doubt bird-filled dreamy sleep.