Monday, January 28, 2008

When Nature takes her own

White snow, his blanket,

he rests on the forest floor.
Oaks stand watch above.

Dressed in the richness
of these woods—red, orange, brown.
Lord of air, fallen.

Little feet scurry
to see what strangeness lies here.
Still, they touch him not.

I found the body of a Red-shouldered Hawk, perfect in every way, preserved by the snow in the woods.
He appears to have broken his neck.
I wrapped him well and will carry him to CNC.

He will be admired by many,
but remembered by me.

Please click to enlarge.

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Lisa at Greenbow said...

Such beauty cannot be forgotten.

Selma said...

Oh, the poor litle thing. What a beauty he was.

Crafty Green Poet said...

wonderful close up photos, such beauty in the detail of bird plumage

cestoady said...

A fitting,and elegant,epitaph for such a noble bird.

You photos bring to life the beauty most often seen at a distance.

Marvin said...

He was a beautiful bird.

Island Rambles Blog said...

WOW I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this site...thanks so much for visiting mine...I would like to reciprocal link so I can tell my friends about your site. These close ups of the hawk are so incredible. Your writing is dreamy also....I will mark you as a favorite and visit often. thanks so much for finding me and letting me into your world.

NW Nature Nut said...

Wow, such beauty, and very lucky that you found him. The colors are incredible.

Birding Scott said...

Wow. You really can't get pictures that close up -- This was one amazing bird. The talon picture is incredibly detailed.

Weeping Sore said...

Thanks to you, and your lovely words, now I'll remember your hawk too.

I recently learned (thanks to the horticultural director of a nearby public garden where I volunteer in San Diego) that it's the red shouldered hawks I often hear overhead - they make a identifiable squawk as they stare me down from their perch atop the highest tree.

Mary said...


I don't have the words to say how wonderful YOUR words commend a beautiful bird. Bless you.


Sandpiper said...

Oh how sad about the RT Hawk. We have a lot of them around here and they're so beautiful. Thanks for visiting my site. I really enjoy your blog very much. You're such a talented writer, Nina. Thanks for sharing!

mon@rch said...

Wonderful find and glad you had taken this over to the nature center! I just love the up close macro shots that you captured! Those colors are stunning and watch the talon!

nina said...

Lisa--always sad to have this opportunity, but he was magnificent.

Selma--It irritated me that, as a less common species (we have more Red-tailed hawks than Red-shouldered ones) he had been killed by his own actions--not human-connected. Erg!

(crafty green poet--yes, his feathers were works of art, and in all shapes and sizes

cestoady--I was almost at a loss for how to appropriately describe him and share this beautiful bird--even in death, so stately.

Marvin--yes, and I'm thrilled to think others will benefit by being able to have him "stuffed" and displayed educationally

island rambles--I appreciate your visit--and look forward to seeing the finds at yours, too.

nw nature nut--I felt lucky, too--that he wasn't mishandled and made someone's trophy.

birding scott--talons were VERY sharp

weeping sore--yes, they're very vocal--we hear them high above, circling

Mary--I had to keep a bit of emotional distance in telling this--were my tears awe or sadness?

Sandpiper--the orange of his breast, rusty red-shoulders...he's a beauty to behold.
(Enjoy your site, too.)

Monarch--I've got an entire "roll" of photos--when do you know you've taken enough--with such a beautiful subject?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Beautiful closeup shots. I am just getting ready to write about a hawk... Hmm...

Q said...

Dear Nina,
You honored him so very beautifully. Red Shouldered Hawks are magnificent birds. How did he die?
I love the way you showed his feathers and his talon. Beautiful photos.
Knowing he will be a part of an educational program is very nice. I usually do not like seeing the stuffed birds but in this case I think it is fitting.
I have never come across a downed raptor. Very sad.
Your graciousness touches my heart.
Thank you.

nina said...

Winterwoman--I'm guessing you have great pictures of your own--but if you ever need to borrow....which hawk is your subject?

Q--The CNC believes it was a collision with a tree? Perhaps my mighty oak?

RuthieJ said...

Oh Nina, how sad you must have been to find this beautiful lifeless bird. Your poem is wonderful and thanks for thinking to take the pictures of the birds beautiful feathers to share with us.

Dorothy said...

Nina, What a touching commentary to a beautiful hawk! How very sad!
Your photos are amazing..I will probably never have a chance to this type of hawk so close, but your pictures allowed me to do so. You've honored him with your words and your photos.

Julie at Virtual Journey said...

Beautiful images and words - just called in to say hello from Lana's.

The hawk reminded me of a story with a happier ending.
A taxidermist collected creatures for his craft; one day he found an owl seemingly frozen to death in the snow, and placed it in his fridge with the rest of his collection of small rodents.

When he later checked, the owl had revived and eaten the lot!

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Tastefully done.

Willard said...

Thanks for visiting my blog!

This is my first visit to yours, and I must say that I am impressed. I hope to return often.

Excellent photography and writing!

Joan said...

Great poem for a beautiful subject. I love the colors and patterns of the feathers. I wonder how he broke his neck.

Threadspider said...

What a perfectly poignant tribute to this beauty.

Ruth said...

Unusual, but very beautiful post. Most people are too afraid of death to look for beauty in it.

Diane said...

What gorgeous closeups you were able to get -- a lovely examination and learning process with the unfortunate death of this magnificent creature. I love the birds of prey and never feel badly when they take one of the smaller birds. Do you suppose his broken neck occured likely while in flight?

Alberta Postcards
Diane's Flickr photos

nina said...

Ruthie--it seems less sad if the bird's life can be appreciated by many, for years to come

Dorothy--I will probably never have the chance again either

Julie--I DID check him well--I half expected him to wake up as he thawed, too!

Zen--thank you--I thought a proper tribute was important

Willard--thanks for the visit back--you're welcome any time

Joan--tree collision?

threadspider--he was a magnificent bird

death--I tried to share this experience with others I work with--the sentiment was "eeew"

Diane--It was hard for me not to spend time with this bird--such a rare opportunity, as you know

Julie Zickefoose said...

Nina, was the hawk in good condition? His feathers are immaculate, but was his breast well muscled and round? Sometimes a fresh bird's head will flop around and we assume it has broken its neck, but that may not actually be the cause of death. I was brought a great horned owl once, found dead in the woods with "not a mark on it." It was very thin. It wasn't until I skinned it that I found it had been shot through both wrists some time before and rendered flightless. (Birds don't bleed much, so it didn't show). That wasn't what killed it, though. On skinning out the head, I found a perfect triangular dent from a crow's bill that had pierced the skull. It was a kindness from the crow.There may be more to this story, and perhaps a taxidermist can tell you more.
Lovely poem, lovely photos.

nina said...

Julie--he seemed of average build, I guess. (of course I have never felt the body of a hawk before!!!)

It did impress upon me that his size was largely a result of feathering, yet I know from washing chickens (yes, I've washed chickens, too) that birds' bodies are small relative to overall appearance. Maybe he wasted away?
I'll ask for info back on him when they mount him--I'm curious, too.

The guy at the nature center suspected a broken neck, but didn't closely examine the body.

Susan Gets Native said...

I don't visit over here nearly enough...and you found an RSHA!
A way to tell if the bird has wasted away is to feel the keel...the "breast bone". You shouldn't be able to feel the bone in the middle, only muscle.
A wobbly neck doesn't mean that the neck is broken. They all wobble when they are freshly dead...until rigor mortis sets in. We have had some cold days and nights lately. The bird could have been 15 years old and died of cancer.

Poor proud thing. I hope to see it at the CNC someday.
This reminds me of something you might be interested in: The Museum Center does "skinning" classes on Wednesdays. Some of us RAPTOR people are planning on going....very BLOG-Worthy! Let me know if you are interested.

nina said...

Susan--I thought of sending him your way when I came across him, but figured RAPTOR had a ton of decided on CNC. I think we may never know his history, unfortunately.

I'd love to do the museum class, but Wednesdays are work, work, work for me. Keep me in mind for weekend things, though. Thanks!