A Narrow Escape

Steller’s Jay

The bird is powered by it own life and by its own motivation.Abdul Kalam (1931-2015)

Back in January, we saw our first good snowfall.  The flakes fell softly without a breath of wind to carry them.  As the weather increased, so did the birds:  song sparrows, juncos, chickadees, flickers, downy and hairy woodpeckers, varied thrushes, and Steller’s jays. They were bursting with energy, singing and dancing, picking, and pecking every seed and grain in sight.  All that song and dance worried me that it might alert the Cooper’s hawk that’s been hunting these woods.

As birds came and went, the Steller’s jay lingered.  The jay rested on the fence as if enjoying the caress of snowflakes on his back.  Those beautiful sapphire feathers made a striking contrast against the white.  Putting this pleasant distraction aside, I returned to my writing when suddenly something struck the glass door.  I jumped, almost knocking the chair over. The jay was pressed flat against the glass, a Cooper’s hawk clawing at its tail.  The panic stricken jay fluttered left then right so fast, it was a blur of feathers.  “No,” I yelled!

The Cooper’s hawk leaves wing marks in snow.

That response bought the jay precious time.  He ran and flapped as fast as he could across the deck without a second to spare.  The hawk was so close you couldn’t have slid a sheet of paper between them.  Just then, the hawk pounced, leaving wing marks in the snow.  The jay bolted from underneath the hawk and flew north into the woods screeching nonstop.  As for the hawk, she flew to a hemlock tree on South Bank where she sulked and likely thought about her mistakes.  For the jay, it was a narrow escape, and one he won’t likely soon forget.

Cooper’s Hawk (female) after a failed hunt.

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