Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fallen Prey


The air was cool on this early November morning and a gentle breeze caused the tree tops to sway hypnotically to and fro. Dew glistened on portions of the lawn and a peacock and his peahen partner pecked at the grass, followed by a pair of black and white feathered guinea fowl. Several of the neighbor’s brightly colored roosters and hens scratched for worms in the rich garden soil. A stray black cat lazed in the sun by the pool, and a freight train rumbled in the distance.

A red-tailed hawk soared in the clear sky above and without warning the raptor swiftly dove and grasped one of the wandering guinea within its talons and beak, pinning it securely to the ground. The roosters, hens and sister guinea scattered and began loudly issuing cries of warning. The air was filled with the crows of brightly colored roosters as they made their exit, squirrels chattered loudly and scurried from tree to tree, jaybirds shrilled overhead, and the surviving guinea paced nervously a short distance from her brother that lay dead within the falcon’s tight clench, its neck broken. Cackling incessantly she tried to locate an area in the fence that would allow her to slip to safety. The quiet was shattered by the deafening noise, and ignoring the confusion, the hawk pulled its prey into the shadows of nearby foliage.

Unaware, the guinea had fallen victim to the winged hunter; his life extinguished quickly. The powerful hawk was merciful in ending the guineas life, but slow and meticulous in consuming his prey. Black and white speckled feathers were plucked and strewn about the ground as hour after hour he picked at the remains, only pausing when he heard a more powerful predator overhead. I wondered whether the large bald eagle that hovered above hoped to seize the hawk’s prize, but he soon glided toward a nearby lake abundant with fish. Sometime later a tan and red rooster stood on top of the wooden fence and crowed loudly, as if he were issuing a challenge to the hawk. The satisfied bird barely acknowledged the rooster’s presence, realizing the captor is stronger than the prey. When a second hawk that was larger than the first rested on top of a power pole and let out a warning cry, any remaining roosters and hens scattered. Shortly thereafter, the larger hawk took flight disappearing over the rooftop. The hunter continued to fill himself with his prey.

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