Friday, December 11, 2009
"Not Too Sharp, ARE Ya!"
In New England, we often phrase questions as if they are statements of fact. We say things like "Not too sharp, are ya?" almost daring the subject to challenge what we already know to be true; there is no doubt in our minds. My father used to say that particular thing to me when I had done something he thought was dumb, which was often. It's usually nice to have company when you do something dumb. Even if you can't totally shift the blame to the other person, it feels a touch less lonely if you can share the corner on stupid. In this case, I shared my lack of sharpness with this Sharp-shinned hawk. "Oh ya! Who's stupid now? He's got the name, not me!"
Yesterday, I was working on a slide show for a public presentation. I was under a deadline, so of course, the electricity went off and on five times in twenty four hours. This scrambled my computer in a big way making it very frustrating. Deep in concentration, I was chewing my cuticles, swearing at the computer, and bashing keys against my better judgment. At least once, I'm sure the computer spit back at me. I hunched over the keyboard, haggard with a glazed look in my eyes. I was so absorbed in getting my project done that I hadn't tied my crazy hair back nor had I put on a bra. I don't think I had brushed my teeth, either.
All of a sudden, there was a thunderous crash into a living room window. It was so loud I thought for a second the glass had broken. The magnitude of the sonic boom was such that I couldn't tell just which window had been struck, the confusion compounded by both of my dogs barking like maniacs. Leaping up on the surge from my last frayed nerve, I ran outside and found this Sharp-shinned hawk on the deck. It was alive, but disabled. It glared at me with one wing askew, its beak open and panting, clear signs of bird stress. It had the same look I did!
Empathy kicked in and reflexively, I went to reach for it, but stopped myself. Its hooked beak and talons made me think better of it. I had to act quickly before the dogs showed up or the poor bird became hypothermic. It was about forty degrees out and the wind was blowing, but I pulled my shirt off for the hawk. Having watched enough shows on falconry, I knew to cover up its head. The cold wind whipped my hair into a cyclonic disaster and reminded me that my amply bosomed self was totally exposed out in the yard, so in I came with my feathered friend in a bundle. My hands were shaking. Mind racing, I wondered aloud if I had a box somewhere to put it in. "Where would I have put that phone number for the avian rescue people," I asked myself.
My address book was on the dining room table, so I laid the hawk down and reached for it. Suddenly, the Sharpie extricated itself from my shirt and zoomed like a rocket into the living room. "Oh shit!" I screamed dashing in pursuit, leaving my shirt behind. The commotion incited the dogs to start a snarling fight provoking more screaming and yelling from me. My living room is thirty-two by thirty-two feet wide, but not adequate as an aviary for a bird with a two foot wing span, I can assure you. Grabbing a towel from the nearest bathroom, I booted the dogs out of the room, then closed the doors. Towel in hand, I scanned the upward bound perches like the ceiling fan and chandelier, but no angry hawk. "Where the hell could it be........." my eyes roamed the room. And there is was, perched atop the open lid of my laptop computer.
I tossed the towel over the bird praying it did not poop on my keyboard which would have served me right, and took it outside. If it had not flown away immediately, I would have then gone looking for a suitable container and called avian rescue. Thankfully, it swooped away to the branch of the tree where it's perched in these photos. It took a minute to collect itself, just long enough for me to grab my camera for these shots. I'm hoping that it is okay out there. I'm sure it's better off than with me, no matter how kind my intentions. When it came to the Sharp-shinned, I was, as my father would have said, "Not too sharp." Now, where did I put my shirt?
(By the way, I think the hawk was chasing a Blue Jay when it struck the window, which wasn't too bright. It did fix whatever was ailing my computer, though. Remember, it is unlawful to possess hawks or their parts. All wild birds in Maine are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA). If you need help to rescue a bird, click here on AVIAN HAVEN. Let the professionals handle it. It's better for the bird and better for you, too. You could go to jail.)