Friday, September 18, 2009

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

A hawk flew into my urban apartment last night, just before sunset. No, I'm not kidding. No this isn't some fiction writing exercise. He looked a lot like this guy, just a little redder. He came in my kitchen window, I'm assuming to make an evening snack out of my pet finches, and ended up trapped, flapping madly between glass and cage. When I heard the ruckus, I assumed it was a pigeon. I mean, what else would it be in this wonderland of brick and blacktop? I rushed over to usher it back out the open side of the window, when I noticed the size, smooth striped feathers. Like an idiot, I started talking to him, "My god! You're beautiful! What are you?" and so on. He stopped dead, perched on the window sill, and leveled me with a sharp yellow stare. Holy Crap!

Outwardly calmed by some serious inner chaos, I grabbed him with both hands at his shoulders, knowing full well that I'd most likely lose a finger in the process. I held him for just a second, if that, just enough to show him his escape, and let go. He stretched his wingspan, flew to the chimney at the back of the roof, and perched, his lean frame and powerful legs silhouetted. Again like an idiot, I tossed some steak out the window for him, and only succeeded in scaring him away. Well done, Claire, and I don't mean the steak.

My first thought was that it was a red tailed hawk, but I started doubting myself. After consulting the best and brightest bird brain I know, and spending many hours with Google Images, I'm still stumped. I know what you're thinking, What color was his tail? His tail was hidden behind the birdcage while he was trapped, and when I had him in my hands, I assure you I only saw beak and talons. He was small, though, for a red tailed, maybe 15" or 16" long. Had that lovely brownish-red coloring, a compact body and was really leggy. My working theory is young red tailed hawk. I'd love suggestions, though.

This tops the list of crazy/ amazing things things that have happened to me. I'm still buzzing, and trying to even process the event. You can be assured that there will much hawk-inspired madness around here for some time. Including the following bit of spousal conversation...

"Why didn't I take a picture of him?" I sigh, longing for some memento of this wild experience. "Because you're not a complete asshole," my raptor-like husband replies. Touchee. We laugh.

*** Update *** I've now learned that young red tailed hawks have bright yellow eyes that darken with age, and that adults stop feeding their young in late summer, which causes the new fledgling hunters to make, well, amateur mistakes this time of year (i.e. going after caged birds in a human domicile.) They can be as small as my visitor and can have larger leg to body ratios. (Hey, I can relate, puberty legs are hardly unfamiliar to me.) So now, I'm pretty well convinced he was as suspected, a juvenile red tailed hawk.

1 comment:

  1. Hello friend! This is an awesome story! Remember when the owl tried to fly into our apartment to get our fish? I guess B'ham birds are desperate for food!