Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Circle of Life

On Saturday we could have hosted our own National Geographic show in the back garden.  Or maybe a horror movie featuring the local critters in starring roles.

It has become our habit to make use of old bread instead of just tossing the last few pieces at the end of each loaf into the garbage.  Back in the winter when we moved here, we decided it would be nice to give our backyard birds a treat by tearing up the old bread into bits and tossing it out in the garden where we could watch them eat it from the huge bay window in the family room.  Sure, it attracted the squirrels that wanted to add a bit of extra carbs to their diets, too, but they always seemed to mingle happily with the birds.  

As usual, I put out the old bread Saturday afternoon and it didn't take long for the neighborhood ravens, magpies and doves to take notice.  The bird buffet had just about ended when the youngest daughter came to tell me that there was a dead bird in the backyard.  I had noticed a couple random feathers out in the backyard and told her that must be what she was seeing.  She told me she was pretty sure there was a dead bird and insisted that I come take a look.  This is what I saw.

It was some sort of English falcon or maybe hawk that had downed one of the fat doves that hang out in our yard on a regular basis.  

It was a bit mesmerizing, in a twisted sort of way, to watch him tuck into his meal.  The youngest daughter was ready to locate a gun so we could shoot it because she said it's cannibalism, the raptor eating a fellow bird... and that's just sick.  She was quite irate about the whole thing and served as the house crier to let her sister know of the carnage taking place in our yard.

The teen rolled out of bed to view the scene.  Granted, it was in the late afternoon, but she had gotten up during the day and was just in there simultaneously resting her eyes and facebooking.  That's her story and she's sticking to it.  

As soon as she saw the little raptor chowing down, she got all teary-eyed and starting playing a gruesome what-if game.  What if the dove was still alive?  What if the dove was feeling all this?  What if the raptor pulled off every feather?  What if we shoot the raptor for killing the dove?  How about what if you shut up and quit planting all these terrible thoughts into our heads?  This is my child that would get all upset when she saw roadkill back in Texas.

It was a bit creepy when the raptor stared at us with its intelligent eyes.  If it could talk, I imagine it would have admonished us to mind our own business.  The youngest daughter went outside to scare it off so we could give the dove a proper burial, but that didn't fly (ha-ha-ha).  Granted, she didn't get too close for fear she would end up on her back with the bird sitting on her chest.  The raptor merely gazed at her and went back to its tasty meal, nom-nom.  We opened up the window to get some pics and, once again, it was unfazed by all the attention.  

I've got several old stale rolls that could be tossed out for the birds today, but I'm afraid they may just have to be disposed of in the food recycling bin.  We don't want to become known as the killing fields around here.  

And now on a lighter and completely separate note, it seems my little foxes are quite the garbage disposals.  I had tried a new recipe for chicken and rice in my crockpot cookbook, Fix It and Forget It.  We discovered it needs to be not just forgotten but completely erased from our collective memory because it was a total fail - gummy rice!  I was curious if the foxes would eat it, so I ladled up a plastic bowl full of the leftovers no one wanted and put it out for them last night.  This morning it was gone... even the bowl.  It appears they're not picky eaters, so maybe I'll serve them up a bit of raptor.

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