Our garden, which is normally teeming with flittering and chattering little birds, went deathly quiet yesterday. That could only mean one thing- the presence of a bird of prey.
These rare visits are a mixed blessing. I love seeing these striking birds, but I feel for our resident tiny bronze mannequins, who’s only defence is to live up to their name. Terrified, they stand frozen, hoping the hawk won’t take notice. Today, they were in luck. It stayed long enough for me to get a few photos and took off.
That’s not what happened last time.
I was making the bed in our guest room, with the sliding doors wide open. Suddenly a mannequin shot in like a missile. Hot on its heels was a little sparrowhawk and half a heart beat after that, came the cat! Wings flapped and fur flew as I desperately opened windows hoping one of them would escape. An impressive vertical leap brought the cat’s paws dangerously close to the hawk’s tail. The hawk quickly decided this was way too much drama for such a small morsel and aborted its mission exiting through the now open window.
The traumatized little bird took refuge in the ceiling rafters. My normally docile feline friend Bella was almost unrecognizable. Her eyes were wide and wild, and she was breathing hard, having resumed a crouched position, ready to spring into action. Her dormant hunting instincts were clearly wide awake. Now that the big bird was gone, she focused on the small one. She’d been living alongside these birds for a few years without incident, but today this little guy was seen as prey. I scooped her up in my arms and took her outside, closing the sliding doors behind me.
Now that her inner hunter was had been aroused, she stocked birds, lizards, insects- anything that moved. Luckily, she was terribly out of practice, and not fast enough. After a few days, she lost interest and went back to her usual habits of lazily watching the birds, and trying to “talk” to the guinea fowl.
When the hawk appeared today, she yawned and walked into the house where she jumped up on to her favourite chair and promptly fell asleep. It seems nurture trumped nature- this time anyway.
In Addition to being one of the Two Girls, Jacquie Gauthier is the author of The Gift of an Elephant and Twenty Eight Elephants and Other Everyday Miracles available on Amazon.