Big Bird

Big Bird

The kids have a snow day. Daughter and I decided to make a trip to the library. She wanted some books about Van Gogh. I’d get more poetry. As we got to the car, she remarked on unusual tracks in the snow. I gave her the noncommittal, “Oh” as I struggled with the bag of books to return, eyed the snow to see if it would melt or if I should brush it off a bit, thinking I’d need to unlock the door to retrieve the broom.

Really, come see them, she urged.

I stared at spiny tracks. They must have been 4″ long, single file, until they disappeared under the car.

They’re huge, I said. Is it an ostrich? A one-legged ostrich?

We walked to the other side of the car to see where they came out. No tracks.

Well, peek under the car and see if there’s a one-legged ostrich under there, I said, half jokingly.

She bent down. Her face fell.

There’s a giant bird under the car!

We scrambled up the steps and from the relative safety of the front porch bent down to get a good look. Yup, giant bird under the car. Probably a vulture. There are packs of vultures around here.

She saw it move, but it was mostly still. It was big, and it didn’t belong there under our car. That was pretty disconcerting.

So much for our civilized pursuits. We weren’t going anywhere near the car. Is everyone plagued by rats and vultures, or is it just us?

We went inside. She crumbled into tears, she was so creeped out. She’d been standing right next to it.

The 6 lb. cat held vigil from the windowsill.

About a half hour later I went out to the balcony. I couldn’t see under the car, but I could see tracks emerging from the car. We ran outside and checked. Bird was gone.

We resumed our trip to the library. As I started the car, she looked up, and there he was, in a tree, fanning out his feathers. Now it looked like a hawk. So much more noble to have a hawk than a vulture under our car!

We drove to the library for Van Gogh, poetry, and bird identification guides.

Daughter was still a little creeped out. I told her that if she weren’t so observant, I would have started the car with that beautiful creature trapped beneath it.

You are a friend to living things, I assured her.

She beamed, a little.

We brought the phone, with pictures of tracks and a faraway shot of the bird, and the bird guides to the bakery. We think it might be a Rough Legged Hawk.

She mentioned that she’d seen something on the driveway as we drove away, so we could examine the pellets when we returned home. Oh isn’t that fun. For some reason I was the one to inspect it. I found something squishy, looking like a large organ. It might be bird vomit. (So it is a vulture?) Or maybe it’s a dead baby bird. (Is it baby bird season?)

If it’s a vulture, maybe it will come back and eat it? Or maybe the next round of precipitation will be a heavy rain and wash it away? I really don’t want to be the one to have to remove the organ/dead baby bird/vulture vomit. So I just went back inside and left it there until something happens next.

I’m going to stay inside and read some poetry and just not think about it for the time being.


2 thoughts on “Big Bird

  1. Amazing photo! A vulture or a hawk, either one, could be a great asset to you as they hunt rodents in the fields. He could be a gift to you and curse to the rat population in the area, both worth toasting with some wine.

  2. I read your comment to my daughter, Jean, and she cracked up. I will be sure to continue to be hospitable to this bird of prey. How lucky we are, indeed!
    By the way, the pest control guys returned for a scheduled visit and I asked them about secondary dangers to other animals. He explained that the Department of Agriculture regulates the poison, that the amount we use would not harm a dog (or even a cat). Our progressive bakery down the road uses this company, too, which helps me trust them.

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