Giant Cat Eating Monsters or Useful Neighbors?
At my last house, in Fayetteville, I had a nest of red-tailed hawks in a tree at the top of the back pasture. They’d built their home, with what must have been a remarkable 360 degree view, overlooking the rolling green hills and grassy meadows of our little valley. Presumably, they could see the verdant landscape dotted with cows, horses, and even some fluffy sheep. They were probably more interested in the multitude of rabbits they could see from their vantage point and, of course, the chickens. They had chosen to build directly overlooking my chicken coop so they watch their lunch scratching around just underneath the tree. Clever.
I’ve always been told they would only take prey in a dive. The chicken yard was laced over with tree branches. There was no way they could dive in. Unfortunately, no one had ever told the hawks that they were limited in that way. I heard the chickens carrying on with great drama one morning, and when I went running out, I realized that the one of the hawks had simply hopped in and was killing a large red hen in a ground fight. Her friends were watching it play out like a horror film. They were highly agitated to say the least. Once my daughter, Evangeline, and I were sitting in the kitchen trying to have a relaxing cup of coffee when we saw one jump down through the branches and kill a screaming squirrel. So much for only killing prey in a dive. I’m glad that I’m not terribly portable. Sheesh.
Anyway, I thought since I’d moved to Atlanta, in the middle of a subdivision that I would leave the hawks behind. Guess what? I have a nest of red-tailed hawks living even closer to my house here, and I’m pretty sure it’s full of babies. Now I have to be concerned about the cats walking outside and being carried off. Actually, not carried off some distance…but eaten right outside the window of the upstairs bedroom. Sigh. We will have to be careful with neighbors like that.
Nevertheless, I don’t begrudge the hawks their living. I haven’t lost a single plant or bulb to squirrels or rabbits; I bet I don’t have poisonous snakes or rats outside. I guess they have as much right to scratch out a life here as I do. And they’re beautiful birds. Hopefully, we can be peaceful neighbors.