Sunday, February 25, 2007

Red-Tailed Hawk?

If you see a bird with a red tail, and a generally hawkish configuration of the tail and wings, does that mean it's a red-tailed hawk? I didn't get a very good look at the head, but it may have been vaguely hawkish. There are hawks around here, but I've never been so sure of seeing one as I was today. In fact, there seemed to be a pair of them. They were not large birds.

I wondered if they were taking an interest in the dead squirrel that lay almost exactly in the middle of the road. That could be dangerous. I waited until no cars were coming, and then walked out to the center line. Not giving myself time to think, I kicked the corpse. It flew into the air and landed by the side of the road. I followed and kicked it again, so that it lay squarely on the sidewalk, and then got myself out of the road. It seems disrespectful, doesn't it? But it is in fact safer, for birds and animals that eat carrion, if their meal is not lying in the path of oncoming traffic.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Swans and Snow

Well, it finally snowed around here. And for whatever reason, the waterfowl came back. The Canada geese probably never left, but I don't recall seeing so many ducks recently. Most noticeable, though, are the swans.

I had a perfect opportunity to decide which is whiter, snow or swan. I observed them very carefully, as I walked to and from the store. My final verdict was:

Snow is cold. The essence of its brightness is cold, and the sharpness with which it strikes the eye. Swans, on the other hand, are alive. That gives their color a sort of depth, solidity, which seems to me to be a different sort of brightness. As if you can perceive their body heat.

All of these birds appear to enjoy hanging out in the cold water, or even sitting on the ice. It would not suit me at all.