Slats has become harder and harder to spot. He has learned that he must watch out for danger, and no longer perches in full view on the side of the nest. Occasionally, we can see the flutter of a wing, and hear him call "Peee-yuuu." Henrietta still stands defiantly by the nest, however.
Neighborhood interest in the hawk family has not diminished. One afternoon, as I watched Henrietta near the nest, a Nepalese family came over to see what was happening. They live on Red River Trail, and their grandson (about seven or eight years old) was with them. I told him to remove his glasses, so he could see better through the binoculars. "Oh yes, I see it!" he cried, as he spotted the big bird. I remembered enough of the tradition Jay had taught me after his trip to India and Nepal to bow and clasp my hands as they left. They did likewise, and we both said "Namaste," which means something like "the God in me respects the God in you."
Later in the week, an elderly Chinese couple came by, and I asked them if they would like to see the hawks. "No Engles," replied the woman. I responded with a universal "Okay," then pointed to the nest and said "Hawk." The woman looked up at the great bird, then motioned to her husband and said, "Hok!" As the couple walked away, I heard her saying "hok" again. Now she has a new English word.
Tonight, just before dark, Jay and I walked out to visit with the Hawks. We interrupted Slatsí dinner, but he didnít seem to mind. Apparently, the hawk parents are providing adult meals now, meaning whole birds, or at least large pieces. We watched as Slats grappled with his meal, tearing pieces off and devouring them. No table manners, this kid! When he was finished, he perched atop the nest, turned his back to us, and we were treated to an expanse of white bottom and tail feathers (which have filled out nicely in the past few days). ThenÖ Slats flew! Jay and I watched openmouthed as the young hawk sailed out from his tree without hesitation. This was probably not his solo flight, just the first time weíve seen him fly. He has a great deal of confidence and skill, and undoubtedly is only returning to the nest for food. So, how long will Rufous and Henrietta keep coddling junior? Heís growing so large we may have to stop calling him "Slats" and call him "Birdzilla" instead!
As soon as I went out the front door, I could hear Slats screeching, "eeee-eeeee-uuuuu-eeeee!" He was obviously excited about something. As I turned around on the canal bridge to view the nest, Henrietta flew in with Slatsí lunch, the cause of all the excitement. Cautious Henrietta saw me watching them, and huddled together with Slats, trying to calm him down. After only a few seconds, however, Slats could stand it no longer, and shoved Henrietta away from the nest, so he could have his lunch. Henrietta flew as young Slats/Birdzilla went to work on his meal.
Later in the afternoon, I watched as Rufous brought food to the nest. Rufous doesnít linger around the nest, and this time he had no choice, as Slats muscled Dad away from his dinner. About that time, a Hispanic boy, around ten years old, rolled up on a skateboard. I asked him if he wanted to look through the binoculars. He eyed the nest curiously, but shook his head and backed away. He rounded the corner of the bridge calling "Dad, Dad, come see the hawk!" Then Dad and a huge black lab came up the walk to take a look. The boy eagerly took the binoculars with Dadís approval. Then Dad got down on one knee to steady the binoculars while I tried to get a good photo of Slats, who was strutting his stuff around the nest.
Young Slats, the fledgling hawk,
is ready for action.
This morning, I could hear Slatsí frantic cries before I went outside. I hurried out to the nest to investigate. No Slats. But I could hear him. "Peeee-yuuuu! Peeee-yuuuu!" over and over. I walked all around, trying to determine where his pathetic squeals were coming from. And finally I spotted him Ė in one of the cypress trees, about 100 feet from the nest! Now I understood why he was so desperate. He has flown to another tree, and canít figure out how to get back for his breakfast. What will happen next?
When I returned home in late afternoon, Slats was down inside the nest with only his head peeking out. Poor baby, I believe he was worn out! Itís a big, scary world out there. And it seems that a whole lot of effort goes into hunting for food! The nice cozy nest and free meals seem like a much better choice.
Continue to Chapter 13: Slats Ventures Out
[TABLE OF CONTENTS]