mother and child reunion

I am the hawk, and there’s blood on my feathers.
But time is still turning, they soon will be dry.
And all those who see me, and all who believe in me
share in the freedom I feel when I fly.

John Denver
lyrics
Eagle and the Hawk

(all images of a young immature Red-tail Hawk / Julie Cook / 2017)

I heard him long before I spotted him.
Scanning the tree line I finally located the almost frantic and very intense
commotion perched precariously atop the very tip of a pine tree.
He was “crying” loud and furious…as another hawk made its way to the tree.

Despite his intimidating size, this was a baby…well…
maybe not exactly a baby but more like an adolescent,
yet still more child than adult.
Oddly younger hawks are larger than the full grown adults.
This fussy bird wasn’t acting much better than a fledgling.
Crying for all to hear.

This immature bird was crying for mom…
who did swoop in as they traded places.
Mom took over sitting atop the tree before both birds flew off.

If you’ve never seen a bird of prey up close and personal, they give renewed sense
to simply being Awed!

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

Flown the coop

“Those who have courage and faith shall never perish in misery”
Anne Frank

Amazement awaits us at every corner.
James Broughton

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(the house wren’s empty nest on the tractor, under the tarp / Julie Cook / 2016)

Amazing…
on so many different levels…
simply amazing…

Let’s take a small diversion from the current reign of havoc, or is that rain of havoc, or merely both….anywhooo….

Away from the havoc which has been beset upon us in these most recent of days..diverting ourselves away in which to wander…

Wandering away ever so slightly from that which is directly in front of our eyes…to that which is somewhat removed…
Blessedly and amazingly removed.

Yet, we must take note, it is to be no less, simply amazing.

And maybe since it is somewhat removed, tucked away and elusive in nature…
it is all of that, and so much more, which adds to the sheer amazingness of it all…

Let us now wander away to the world of the amazing…

On Sunday, 3 days ago, this empty jumble of leaves, with the giant hollowed out hole in the middle, was a dizzying beehive of activity.

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The stakes were high.
For there were five hungry mouthes which had to be fed.
We were all made keenly aware of this one important fact.
Life was suddenly all a flutter, literally.

Squawking and screeching two very busy parents hunted, pecked, chirped, sung, guarded, protected and fiercely chased away any friend or foe from the home of their 5 tiny offspring.

Not only had they labored to construct, dare we say craft, this amazing conglomeration of sticks,
leaves, feathers and fuzz…
they had selected a most safe, protected and hidden site in which to set up house.

Birds are amazing that way.

They worked tirelessly almost undetected…all but for the presence of a busy bee bird who could be seen darting, scurrying ad flitting here and there.
Eggs were silently laid and kept warm…unbeknownst to the unsuspecting nearby humans.

Yet all of that changed at hatching time.

Nonstop, two parents labored in order to gather enough food to raise up their alienesque brood.
Five oversized beaks flapped open, as 10 bulbous closed orbs protruding from wobbly heads,
continued to develop.

There would be silence…then as soon as a parent neared,
the inharmonic din of chatter began.
It was as if the sound translated into a clamoring repetitiveness of
“feed me, feed me, feed me…feed us… NOW”)

Then this past Sunday the nervous frenzy reached a crescendo.
As the tiny aliens mysteriously sprouted feathers as heads began to match bodies as wings took shape.
The parents were now worked into a fevered pitch as babies, turned fledglings, were soon to spread their wings. Mom and Dad were keen to create a safe zone, free of humans, cats and others
as their children would need some room to roam…safe yet free.

And just like that, it is…..now over.

“Did they fly away??” you pensively ask.

Well… I truthfully can’t say.

It’s as if one day they were there and the next day they just weren’t…

We’re they ready?

I’d like to think so.

As birds and their Divine Creator are each amazing that way….

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah 3:17

The gift of a special bond

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
― Mother Teresa

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(resident crow / Julie Cook / 2015)

My husband grew up in a small west Georgia town during the 1950s. It was a wonderful time and place in which to relish in the joy and innocence of youth. He often fondly recalls a rather peculiar friendship he formed with a most unusual individual during this particular youthful time of his life.
It wasn’t exactly the sort of friendship one would imagine for a young boy.
It was a friendship and bond forged with a crow.

My husband was a boy who loved being outdoors. The freedom to roam through the woods, wade in and out of creeks and climb up and down trees were all simply vital components of his life and this magical time of innocence of which he never gave a second thought. Leaving home at sun up and not returning until the sun had long set was a common occurrence.

Sadly for a generation of children today the desire to venture out, as often as previous generations had, is no longer as alluring. And as today’s adults, we simply don’t feel good about allowing our kids to “take off,” going to parts unknown as our parents had with us. Much to our sorrow, the world is no longer safe.

It was during this exuberant time of childhood exploration and adventure that my husband found and subsequently took into his care a young fledgling crow that had fallen from a nest. Caring for the young bird, feeding it cereal, keeping it safe and interacting with it daily as only a young boy would with a new found, albeit odd, friend, the baby crow thrived.

Each morning, as he walked to school, his new friend / pet would flitter along over head. As my husband ventured into his school and up to his classroom, the crow would fly to the exact classroom’s open window, flying into the classroom over to my husband’s desk where he’d grab the pencil always sitting on the desk before flying back out the window and eventually home with the pencil. The teacher telling my husband that he would have to keep the crow at home because he was becoming too much of a distraction.

Always marveling at his tale, I was sweetly reminded of his story this week when I read an endearing story on the BBC about a young girl in Washington State who has befriend several crows. .
I hope you’ll enjoy the story as much as I did. . .

The girl who gets gifts from birds
By Katy Sewall
Seattle

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(Gabi)

Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it’s rare for that affection to be reciprocated. One young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden – and they bring her gifts in return.

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann sets a bead storage container on the dining room table, and clicks the lid open. This is her most precious collection.

“You may take a few close looks,” she says, “but don’t touch.” It’s a warning she’s most likely practised on her younger brother. She laughs after saying it though. She is happy for the audience.

Inside the box are rows of small objects in clear plastic bags. One label reads: “Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014.” Inside is a broken light bulb. Another bag contains small pieces of brown glass worn smooth by the sea. “Beer coloured glass,” as Gabi describes it.

Each item is individually wrapped and categorised. Gabi pulls a black zip out of a labelled bag and holds it up. “We keep it in as good condition as we can,” she says, before explaining this object is one of her favourites.

There’s a miniature silver ball, a black button, a blue paper clip, a yellow bead, a faded black piece of foam, a blue Lego piece, and the list goes on. Many of them are scuffed and dirty. It is an odd assortment of objects for a little girl to treasure, but to Gabi these things are more valuable than gold.

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(Gifts given by the crows)

She didn’t gather this collection. Each item was a gift – given to her by crows.

She holds up a pearl coloured heart. It is her most-prized present. “It’s showing me how much they love me.”

If you want to form a bond with a crow, be consistent in rewarding them”
John Marzluff
Prof of wildlife science
Gabi’s relationship with the neighbourhood crows began accidentally in 2011. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. Soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite.

As she got older, she rewarded their attention, by sharing her packed lunch on the way to the bus stop. Her brother joined in. Soon, crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet Gabi’s bus, hoping for another feeding session.

Gabi’s mother Lisa didn’t mind that crows consumed most of the school lunches she packed. “I like that they love the animals and are willing to share,” she says, while admitting she never noticed crows until her daughter took an interest in them. “It was a kind of transformation. I never thought about birds.”

In 2013, Gabi and Lisa started offering food as a daily ritual, rather than dropping scraps from time to time.

Each morning, they fill the backyard birdbath with fresh water and cover bird-feeder platforms with peanuts. Gabi throws handfuls of dog food into the grass. As they work, crows assemble on the telephone lines, calling loudly to them.

(There is a lovely video clip of Gabi feeding birds in her garden–please follow this link to the original article in order to be able to see the video
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31604026)

It was after they adopted this routine that the gifts started appearing.

The crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. There wasn’t a pattern. Gifts showed up sporadically – anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow’s mouth.

One time it was a tiny piece of metal with the word “best” printed on it. “I don’t know if they still have the part that says ‘friend’,” Gabi laughs, amused by the thought of a crow wearing a matching necklace.

When you see Gabi’s collection, it’s hard not to wish for gift-giving crows of your own.

“If you want to form a bond with a crow, be consistent in rewarding them,” advises John Marzluff, professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington. He specializes in birds, particularly crows and ravens.

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(Crow on feeder)

What food is best? “A few peanuts in the shell,” he says. “It’s a high-energy food… and it makes noise when you throw it on the ground, so they hear it and they quickly habituate to your routine.”

Marzluff, and his colleague Mark Miller, did a study of crows and the people who feed them. They found that crows and people form a very personal relationship. “There’s definitely a two-way communication going on there,” Marzluff says. “They understand each other’s signals.”

The birds communicate by how they fly, how close they walk, and where they sit. The human learns their language and the crows learn their feeder’s patterns and posture. They start to know and trust each other. Sometimes a crow leaves a gift.

But crow gifts are not guaranteed. “I can’t say they always will (give presents),” Marzluff admits, having never received any gifts personally, “but I have seen an awful lot of things crows have brought people.”

Not all crows deliver shiny objects either. Sometimes they give the kind of presents “they would give to their mate”, says Marzluff. “Courtship feeding, for example. So some people, their presents are dead baby birds that the crow brings in.”

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(Crows at the birdbath)

Gabi has been given some icky objects. Her mother threw out a rotting crab claw, for example.

Gabi points out a heavily rusted screw she prefers not to touch. It’s labelled “Third Favorite.” Asking her why an untouchable object is in the favourites, she answers, “You don’t’ see a crow carrying around a screw that much. Unless it’s trying to build its house.”

Lisa, Gabi’s mom, regularly photographs the crows and charts their behaviour and interactions. Her most amazing gift came just a few weeks ago, when she lost a lens cap in a nearby alley while photographing a bald eagle as it circled over the neighbourhood.

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(Gabi with Lisa)

She didn’t even have to look for it. It was sitting on the edge of the birdbath.

Had the crows returned it? Lisa logged on to her computer and pulled up their bird-cam. There was the crow she suspected. “You can see it bringing it into the yard. Walks it to the birdbath and actually spends time rinsing this lens cap.”

“I’m sure that it was intentional,” she smiles. “They watch us all the time. I’m sure they knew I dropped it. I’m sure they decided they wanted to return it.”

Writer and broadcaster Katy Sewall is co-host of The BitterSweet Life podcast.” She’s been a journalist and radio professional for 12 years.

Just happy to be here

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
Martha Washington

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(a fledgling cardinal / Julie Cook / 2014)

I had noticed her hopping about out of the corner of my eye—that is, only after I had heard the distinctive “chirp chirp” alerting me that a cardinal was close at hand.
This, however was not just any run of the mill cardinal. This was a new addition to the yard cardinal. As in a fledgling who still had the moulty little tufts of feathers still adorning her head.

I watched her for a while–chirping and hopping here and there as she continued poking and prodding the ground in search of whatever tasty little morsel and grub she could find. She seemed not to have a care in the world. Even with our cat Peaches lounging about in the grass just a few yards away, each animal oblivious and uncaring that either was within “meeting” distance.

A single moment in time that is a wonderful snapshot of Harmony. Our cat being a bit atypical, caring less about the birds in the yard, more interested in what I may be doing. She is just as happy and content as I am to simply sit and watch, or for her, to rather sit and nap.
The little bird should have felt a threatening danger, but blissfuly did not. Peaches has never given any of the birds any cause for concern—of which I am pleased.

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(Peaches more interested in the camera rather than the little bird / 2014)

These small snippets, vignettes of the microcosms of a world seemingly in slow motion, are the soothing balm to the often jaded and tired souls which manifest themselves, day in and day out; byproducts of the rat race we create in life.

Maybe it’s the weather.
Maybe it’s the warmer days.
Maybe it’s the longer days.
Maybe it’s the lazier and slower way in which the world seems to now turn.
Perhaps it’s all of that and more as to why I enjoy the tranquil day’s of an approaching Summer season.

It’s the time of year in which the World seems to offer a collective sigh–exhaling as it begins to relax, and finally lets go. . .
Here’s to sitting under the canopy of an ancient oak tree.
Here’s to the sounds of harmony buzzing and chirping about the yard.
Here’s to the tell-tale summer scent of a freshly mown lawn.
Here’s to spending more time outside rather than inside.
Here’s to time, which may finally be on your side.
Here’s to being happy that we’re just all simply here, in the moment. . .

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