Date: 9/25/17 11:49 am From: Joseph Neal <joeneal...> Subject: AT HOME WITH A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK
My home is in the older residential part of Fayetteville. My house was a 2-room cabin set apart from the proper part of downtown in the 1920s. Today I’m midst bustling Northwest Arkansas City, right off NWA Main Street, College Avenue. In years past, it is not where I would have expected a Red-shouldered Hawk.
When my daughter Ariel was little, we used to go to the municipal pool in Wilson Park. I kept one eye on Ariel in the wading pool, the other on an adjacent shortleaf pine where Red-shouldered Hawks were nesting. I watched in wonder as my very own daughter splashed in the pool and hawks carried snakes up to their young.
I didn’t know it back then, but that nest was a prime example of what researcher John M. Marzluff is talking about in his book, Welcome to Subirdia. The book’s subtitle is, “Sharing our neighborhoods with wrens, robins, woodpeckers, and other wildlife.” And Red-shouldered Hawks. I think he’s writing about a modern Noah’s Ark.
Now fast forward to spring 2015. I’ve spotted an adult Red-shouldered in the yard, just off my carport, Eastern Garter Snake in its talons. It doesn’t pay much attention until I start wiggling around for the best picture angle.
My house doesn’t have room for a washer and dryer, but attached to the house by a short covered walk is a utility building. In spring 2017, I was taking some laundry out for washing when I spotted a juvenile Red-shouldered perched on a snag, at eye level and not more than 20 feet away. It didn’t fly, even when I walked back, got my camera, and returned for photographs.
I had almost exactly the same thing this morning, but today’s Red-shouldered is a full adult. It perched in the same place and behaved in the same way. Birds are smart, otherwise they’d never survive the way we monkey with the planet. I assume this hawk has taken note of my habits, determined I’m harmless, and just carries on with business.
I had to walk back in and get my camera today, too. When I came back its head was cocked for a close inspection of some dense weeds just below the perch. As I watched, it dropped on an Eastern Garter Snake, then flew a short distance, still well in view.
The optimist in me prefers to believe with a little compromise we can live in a kind of harmony with at least some wild creatures. After all, it’s their world, too.
And after all, and once upon a time, they are all said to have ridden out the great flood in Noah’s Ark. People, Red-shouldered Hawks, and all other creatures 2 by 2. Why not now?