Death, and violence in the skies

Like me, Howard, the sexton at church, keeps a pair of inexpensive binoculars at work. We trade stories of the birds we see at the church.

This morning, Howard said, he was walking out towards the dumpsters when he saw what looked like a pair of falcons flying over the parking lot. One of the birds was carrying something big in its bill, and the other bird was diving at the first bird. There were also some crows flying around, and attacking the raptors every now and then.

Howard saw the first raptor drop something as it flew over the parking lot; none of the other birds seemed to notice. Howard took me over to where it landed, right next to someone’s minivan: a long naked tail, with bits of skin and tendon still attached to the root end. The fur was grayish-white; it could have been a rat, or a small opossum. After the first bird had dropped the tail, Howard said that it and its followers flew off somewhere else.

(What kind of raptor was it? Howard couldn’t get his binoculars in time to be sure. But at about this time in past years, I have seen Cooper’s Hawks hunting over and around the church grounds; and Cooper’s Hawks are known for being skillful fliers.)

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