Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 1:44 pm | Fair 72º


Captain’s Log: Making It Home with Meals Can Be Tough on a Critter

Watching birds tussle over a mouse puts perspective on how easy we have it

Critters have a way of reminding me how easy I have it.

I was recently on my way home from the grocery store, waiting on traffic, dodging vehicles driven by people with little consideration for safety, thinking about all the items on my list of things to do and generally living life in the fast lane.

On Patterson Avenue, movement in the air caught my eye. It was a small hawk, flying low over the road, with a field mouse in one talon. Being springtime, that raptor probably had a family meal in mind. Not a large one, mind you, but then critters don’t often get to eat their fill. They are satisfied with survival, and grumbly tummies are part of the bargain.

What happened in the span of 20 seconds, while I was able to watch that bird, made me laugh at my own difficulties and realize how inconsequential they really were.

A crow (raven, maybe) dropped out of a tree and tried valiantly to outmaneuver that hawk to rip the meal out of its talon. The hawk tightened its grip and pulled off a stall maneuver with wings spread wide to show that crow how big and bad a hawk can be. The crow, only marginally impressed and still hungry, insistently used its speed and agility to try to steal the meal.

All that action had both my eyebrows raised, but it wasn’t over yet. A third bird joined the ruckus — a scrub jay — and I knew that this new entrant had major advantages. After all, in the bird world, size and strength only help with the hunt. Small, highly maneuverable, fast and fearless are the top traits in aerial dogfights (a curious term).

The jay darted in, pecked at the crow and took a shot at the hawk. That scrub jay wasn’t even interested in the field mouse. I suspect the bigger birds just got close enough to the jay’s nest to put the speedster into nest-defense mode.

The last I saw of that hawk, it still had a hold on the field mouse and was making its way over treetops. The crow was still in pursuit. I could only imagine what further adventures the hawk would encounter on its way to provide a scant family meal.

I went back to my drive feeling like I have things pretty darn easy.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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