(a Red Tailed Hawk)
We have a back garden that is filled with an outdoor kitchen, stone terraces, and a small forest of evergreens that enclose the space as well as a willow tree and various flowering trees and shrubs, There is a Tiffany Studios mosaic (1890) of stylized art nouveau flowers presiding over one of the terraces. The whole thing has a "Wind in the Willows" atmosphere.
In a far corner there is a Redbud tree. It is about 30 feet tall and in early Spring is a glory of red-purple flowers. I have pruned the lower branches into projections from which to hang the various elements of my bird feeding station. There is a double sided seed feeder with the weight adjustment set to accept birds no larger than a Cardinal. There is a wooden platform feeder for those who don't want to perch on a moving bar to get fed. There is a caged suet feeder for the Downy Woodpeckers. They like cakes of suet studded with insect eggs. There is another hanging feeder full of bread bits, old dry cereal, etc.
I have a chair in place about thirty feet away where I can smoke Burma cheroots and watch the action among the birds and squirrels. Catbirds, a tribe of Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves, Bluejays, and little brown things with great voices. There are also European starlings (a nuisance), and tiny green hummingbirds who like my wife's flowers. These are the habitués of my private utopia for birds.
Yesterday I was surveying the scene and puffing contentedly when a red tailed hawk arrived in this scene like a brown cannon ball . It streaked in through a hole in the foliage along the fence and made a grab for a dove that had been pecking at seed on the platform feeder. There was an explosion of birds and squirrels in every direction with much screeching and squawking. The hawk missed the dove. The intended prey fled across the back garden with the brown rocket in pursuit. It passed me at about ten feet. As it went by it saw me and turned its head to look even as it flew a wild course among the many head high plants. It disappeared around a corner of the house still climbing and still chasing.
God help the dove. pl