Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

December 22, 2013

Ed Hungness: Nothing like a helping hand from a friend

It’s a ratty old thing that really needs to be replaced but like an old friend, it would be missed. From the vantage point of my comfy overstuffed chair, I can look out at the deck, view the yard with three bird feeders and a suet cake holder, and see the lake beyond. We feed the birds throughout the year and enjoy watching them come and go from sunrise to sunset.

Suddenly, there was a familiar bang on the sliding glass door. I looked up and saw a Chickadee fall onto the snowy deck after crashing into the glass. It only flopped around for a moment before a Cooper’s Hawk swooped down, grabbed the stunned bird and flew off with it. It was just a few feet away and within seconds the hunter and the hunted completed a natural cycle of life.

I felt sorry for my favorite songbird.

Chickadees have eaten sunflower seeds from my hand and have landed on my shoulder or hat while refilling the feeders. By nature’s design, the Cooper’s Hawk survives by preying on small birds and rodents. Still, it’s hard not to sympathize with the little guy, the underdog.

This scene has repeated itself on multiple occasions. The hawk is keenly aware of the concentration of birds around our yard. Like a jet fighter, it swoops in hoping to nab an unsuspecting victim munching sunflower seeds. In their attempt to survive the attack, the alarmed birds scatter in all directions. Unfortunately, some collide with a window and become an easy meal for the hawk.

Last week, while sitting in my favorite chair and I heard the familiar thump. At the base of the sliding glass door I spotted the victim. The poor guy hit the glass and did a nose dive onto the snow-covered deck. If not so tragic, it was almost a comical sight. The only things protruding from the snow were two little feet and a tail. He had gone in head first.

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