Hawk on the green

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by Greg Sommer

To most of us, the sight of pigeons milling about the trees and the cries of the crows and magpies is indistinguishable from the cacophony of city life.

But a pause and an ear tuned to bird calls reveals movement on the green. It’s an unnoticed place, almost forgotten. It may not even exist in most people’s minds as they walk at its periphery.

I see something that looks like a pigeon sitting on top of another pigeon, plucking its feathers, starting from the base of the neck.

This fierce pigeon has a breast speckled with gray and a short, powerful beak for ripping out feathers and flesh. It has yellow talons that can hold the body of a pigeon from the back, flapping its wings in anguish.

Cars rush by and people pass by a few feet away. Yet no one seems to notice this scene straight out of a national geographic film.

Why does this death on the green go unnoticed by most, except maybe the dog who rushes by to chase the sparrow hawk?  What else might escape our awareness today?

As we expand our awareness and presence, we increase our appreciation of the daily dramas in our midst, even on a busy city green. As we stop in fascination, our curiosity pulls us ever deeper into the experience. The questions we ask become our teachers long after we’ve left the scene.

I watch the sparrow hawk pluck for a long while, yet it only seems to pluck out the feathers on the pigeons back. I thought sparrow hawks ate the breast meat first.

What is happening here? And what happened to the pigeon’s body an hour later. Where did it disappear?

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