Garden notes: The Falcon returns with a vengeance….

Flickr: Falcon

Flickr: Falcon

A friend was asking me recently for an update on my falcons –I hadn’t been writing about them.

Indeed, I hadn’t seen much of our local falcons for several months, except for a couple of brief sightings.
Once I caught sight of one, very high in the sky, flying that characteristic slow drifting wheel, looking for prey.
And –apparently– not finding anything (that is, at least, to its liking.)

The second sighting, which was more recent, was not of one but three birds on a very warm sunny day, again quite high up.
Seeing the three together, taking their all-the-time-in-the-world time made me wonder what exactly I was looking at. Was it one adult teaching two younger birds? Or was it three co-evals, just out for a…what? They didn’t seem to be hunting for anything in particular….

Though I had the feeling that if something had popped up, as it were, the falcons would not have been able to say no.

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Not so today.

There was no actual sighting. But as I walked to the bottom of the garden, passing by the trellis and the large “stand” of mint and old, dying sunflowers, I was utterly unprepared for what I was about to see.

Feathers, feathers, feathers strewn everywhere.

Clumps of feathers, some of them fluffy and small and light in color, or even white; some of them larger –wing feathers, I imagined, or tail, and darker in color.

And –one more telltale detail. Blood –fresh, bright red blood, daubed on many of the feathers: the unmistakeable sign that a falcon had been at work, and its prey cannot have had a chance of surviving the attack. The falcon had no doubt swooped with lightning speed, singling out its prey, and hitting it with deadly force, and knocking it to the ground.

Which is where the stripping of the feathers that I had happened upon, took place –vigorous and purposeful, no doubt.

And –though I had seen nothing of a falcon as I came out the door to the garden, it occurs to me now that I might well have disturbed its meal, and that it had taken off to a quieter spot.

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As I had come out, my usual coterie of mourning doves and sparrows were waiting for me, along with a young blue jay that didn’t have all its blue yet. And my cardinal, with a young one close by.
I was slightly surprised but pleased to see them. Were the mourning doves waiting on the clothesline being unusually quiet? (The MD equivalent of…shocked and appalled?)
Of course, having posed the question, and having envisioned the possibility, it was I suppose difficult to for my mind to get rid of that picture….

In any event, I was not able to identify the bird –what kind of bird was it?– from the feathers.
It might indeed have been a pigeon –we have plenty of them about, though they are not allowed to feed at the bird-feeder.
When they see me even reach for my catapult, they fly off immediately. And if I repeat “NO PIGEONS” in that sotto-voce low growl that I use for those pigeon scare-off purposes, those two or three pigeons who are waiting on the studio roof to see what was what, have by now come to recognize that if I say “No pigeons” five times or so, that I mean what I say (rather, what I growl) they fly off, with a no-point-in-hanging-about-here shrug.
If pigeons can shrug.

They always muscle away the doves and other birds when they come and take over the feeder, which is why I instituted the No-Pigeons house-(–or garden–) rule.
The mourning doves always seem very impressed with my powers. How does he do it? I wish we could do that “No pigeon” (whatever that means?) thing that he does.
Whatever it means, it always seems to work

In any event –perhaps the falcon’s victim was a pigeon. I don’t think it could have been a mourning dove –though I did find one feather that had the mourning dove dark spot on it.


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