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.