Last week, as I walked out of my house, I had a very powerful nature experience: a magnificent bird of prey hovering over a freshly killed rabbit. Dogs and I both froze in the doorway, my brain racing to figure out what I was looking at, the dogs frozen because that’s when they do when faced with something new. As my brain slowly realized what I was seeing was not multiple rabbits (a common sight in front of my house), but actually a very large bird standing over one very dead rabbit, I was rendered breathless for several reasons. One, birds of prey are huge! Two, it was a magnificent animal, and one rarely sees a big bird like that on the ground, much less three minutes after it has just downed its prey. The bird flew from the grass to the roof of my neighbor’s porch watching me (and my dogs) very carefully. The dogs and I beat a hasty retreat back into the house, and I told my husband just what was waiting out front. He popped his head out and managed to get some amazing pictures. Fortunately, he’s quicker on the draw than I am; the camera was the last thing on my mind. If it had been left up to me, this would have been a story about the one that got away with no visual evidence to remind me.
Of course being who we are, we immediately started arguing about what gracious animal had chosen to reduce our rabbit population that fine morning. Was it an eagle? If so, golden eagle? Immature bald eagle? There is a nesting pair nearby, so that particular guess was not that ridiculously far fetched. Falcon? Hawk? Some alien creature none of us have ever seen before but happens to look like a bird? The guesses reached from plausible to the realms of silly—I am a science fiction romance writer, after all—before I decided that it didn’t matter what wonderful creature had visited us, but that I was grateful for its visit all the same. I have seen these birds around, but never that close. It was as incredible as the time I came around a corner on a hiking path and came face to face with a deer. Being face to face with nature: it does have a way of taking our breath away, doesn’t it?
Yes, the dogs did get their walk—we went out the back door instead—leaving the bird to finish its meal in peace.
Here is one of the pictures my husband took of the bird on the roof next door. What kind of bird do you think it was?