May 22, 2024


One spring morning a few many years 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 just a few years working, from the day he arrived in March by means of mid-July, he’d sing from the spire of my large spruce tree. The dry spring that yr delayed nest constructing. (Robins want moist mud to assemble their nests.) Thanks to rain the day earlier than, the nest, proper subsequent to the home, was all of a sudden half-built, and now the male was lifeless.

I assumed 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 yr.

At the time, I used to be a raptor counter at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, lower than a mile from my home, the place we counted hundreds of hawks winging previous every fall. I usually 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 recognize how tough predators’ lives are. Green darner dragonflies are plentiful throughout kestrel migration, but the little falcons usually got here up empty, and hawks aiming for birds had even worse luck. In Duluth, Cooper’s Hawks are rarer than Northern Goshawks, so after I did see one on the ridge, I used to be all the time thrilled, by no means pondering of my poor robin.

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Most of us human omnivores eat meat, however even avid hunters scavenge nearly all of their protein on the grocery retailer quite than kill it themselves. A species that produces helpless infants will need to have a deeply rooted impulse to guard small beings. When we invite small birds to our feeders, we really feel an analogous intuition, and maybe an ethical crucial, to safeguard them.

When a pair of Merlins nested on my road, one usually cruised down the block, dropping low, its wingtips barely clearing the sidewalk because it handed my home, staying utterly out of sight of feeder birds till the second it banked and cleared the nook hedge. Despite 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 length. 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 tremendous.

I cherished having the luxurious little falcons in my neighborhood and felt exultant after I noticed two lovable fledglings, proof of their dad and mom’ looking success. There’s an actual inconsistency right here, however I can’t assist it. I’m solely human. 

This article was revealed within the “Attracting Birds” column within the March/April 2021 difficulty of BirdWatching journal.

From our galleries: View pictures of Merlin and Cooper’s Hawk