One spring morning a few a long time in the past, I heard horrible screeching and ran out to see a Cooper’s Hawk ripping right into a still-alive robin on my neighbor’s again garden. The robin was screaming, and his mate, dealing with the hawk head-on lower than 3 ft away, screamed even louder till the hawk lastly took off with its meal.
So a few years later, I nonetheless really feel a visceral sorrow remembering that robin, who was no generic fowl — he was my robin. For a number of years operating, from the day he arrived in March by way of mid-July, he’d sing from the spire of my large spruce tree. The dry spring that 12 months delayed nest constructing. (Robins want moist mud to assemble their nests.) Due to rain the day earlier than, the nest, proper subsequent to the home, was abruptly half-built, and now the male was lifeless.
I believed the feminine would transfer on, however the subsequent morning, there she was, a brand new mate bringing her nest supplies. He by no means sang from my spruce, and I didn’t have the identical affection for him, however the pair fledged two batches of younger that 12 months.
On the time, I used to be a raptor counter at Hawk Ridge Chicken Observatory, lower than a mile from my home, the place we counted 1000’s of hawks winging previous every fall. I typically noticed kestrels snatching dragonflies out of midair, Merlins tearing into swirling flocks of waxwings, or an accipiter ripping right into a free flock of jays, making me admire how troublesome predators’ lives are. Inexperienced darner dragonflies are considerable throughout kestrel migration, but the little falcons typically got here up empty, and hawks aiming for birds had even worse luck. In Duluth, Cooper’s Hawks are rarer than Northern Goshawks, so once I did see one on the ridge, I used to be all the time thrilled, by no means considering of my poor robin.
Most of us human omnivores eat meat, however even avid hunters scavenge the vast majority of their protein on the grocery retailer quite than kill it themselves. A species that produces helpless infants should have a deeply rooted impulse to guard small beings. Once we invite small birds to our feeders, we really feel the same intuition, and maybe an ethical crucial, to safeguard them.
When a pair of Merlins nested on my road, one typically cruised down the block, dropping low, its wingtips barely clearing the sidewalk because it handed my home, staying fully out of sight of feeder birds till the second it banked and cleared the nook hedge. Regardless of this well-executed maneuver, it often got here up empty, however after I noticed it seize a siskin after which a junco, I closed down my feeders for the period. I set out suet and seeds to draw birds, to not entice birds that may eat these birds. Even with no feeders round, each songbirds and birds of prey handle simply high-quality.
I cherished having the luxurious little falcons in my neighborhood and felt exultant once I noticed two cute fledglings, proof of their dad and mom’ searching success. There’s an actual inconsistency right here, however I can’t assist it. I’m solely human.
This text was revealed within the “Attracting Birds” column within the March/April 2021 situation of BirdWatching journal.