Monday, March 14, 2011

The Visitor


The crows were screaming. They flew from the island to the mainland and back again. I scanned the island shores for deer, fox, eagles…anything that might say danger to the cautionary crows.

A fast moving shadow shaded me from the sun for a second. I looked up. At first I thought it was just another crow but I listened and realized there was no “caw” coming from its beak. It zipped through the trees darting up and down, flying to the left and then the right, and moved swiftly out over the ice covered river. All the while the crows blasted their warning.

I identified the type of bird by its movement. It was a hawk. I did not know what kind of hawk it was. We are usually graced with the soaring red tail hawks in this area but this certainly was not a red tail. It was dark brown with only a ribbon of white on its tail. I called to my husband who said, “It is just a crow.” I explained how I knew that was not so. The bird was quiet, bigger than a crow and flying with the agility of a hummingbird or a killdeer.

When we retreated to the house, I picked up my trusty Peterson field guide and looked for the mystery hawk. There it was on plate 32, the rough legged hawk (dark phase).

“Do you know how I knew to look for an animal when the crows were screaming?” I asked my husband.

“Did you learn about it in some children’s book?” he asked.

“Yes, Thorton Burgess, studied animals as he wrote his children’s books. His stories always contained facts about the animals he featured as part of his storyline. Blackie Crow always tore about the woods spreading word if danger was near. I think Sammy Jay may have as well.”

Today, our crows like Thorton Burgess’ crow spread the word that a visitor was about and told all the other woodland animals to BEWARE. Today a rough legged hawk was on the hunt while returning to his summer home in southern Canada…another sign of spring.


  1. Loved your post. I've learned so much being in first grade forever.

  2. I love it when books translate to real life. My husband also wonders what book did I read that led to the tidbit of information I may have just shared. Wonderful description, I really liked the second paragraph.

  3. Lovely.

    I love love love applied knowledge--making connections, and your post shows that so well.

    On a side note, I hate crows. Noisy buggers, all. We live in suburbia and have a carrotwood tree that once a year puts out colorful nut-like fruit. The crows took up residence in our trees for many years, cawing us awake (to much frustration on the part of the teenagers) but when we did our sabbatical in Washington DC, we came home to a quiet neighborhood. A virus had wiped them all out. We were thrilled as we could hear songbirds again, enjoy the quiet mornings without those noisy huge black birds. They belong in a nature preserve with lots of space--not here in suburbia!

    See what your early morning word picture has wrought? Thanks for the post!

    Elizabeth E.

  4. Lovely post! So glad Spring is on the way. However, it was deterred today in OK. Thanks for sharing your piece of Spring!

  5. Such a good lead in to your story, & I too relish the idea that all kinds of books teach us how life works. Nice story!

  6. I love that you went straight to a book for more information, and that the initial information that prompted you to notice was from a book. True bookends to a promise-of-spring moment!

  7. So true about crows! This is a beautifully written piece. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I liked the image you created with "zipped through the trees darting up and down..." and how you followed this longer sentence with a shorter one. It made the noise all the crows were creating seem even louder. "...blasted their warning..." Very nice!


  9. Lovey piece and so easy to read. Your sentences had a flow and a rhythm. Loved the second paragraph snapshot.