The Power of Sharing Stories

Well, …unthinkable amounts of snow have blanketed much of the east, sending all animals into various states of surprise and frantic. Voles were spotted racing across the top of the deep snow, a dangerous dash. Songbirds jockeyed for positions at feeders. Large mammals could be seen partaking in a ritual of repositioning the snow…so they could reach their watering holes, their winter stores, and there markets. Amidst all the snowy chaos (and amid the complete demolition of the enormous and historic building near Belmont Bridge) I wonder about the hunter…the Cooper’s Hawk that was spotted a few weeks ago.

Does the contrast provided by the snow give it an advantage?

Does the gathering of birds into groups and clusters focused on scant food sources make the hunt easier?
Does the nearby demolition change the hawk’s behavior?

I have not heard a single mention of the hawk of Belmont Bridge in about a week-n’-a-half…but of course, we’ve all been under the snow’s magic spell…and traveling. For a while there, word of the stealthy bird traveled about in small circles. Within a week of sharing the story of the Cooper’s Hawk another significant sighting surfaced. People had begun looking for it!

This is the power of sharing. Sharing with other people the things you discover and the things you learn while looking closer and learning more may be the primary way we all come to a deeper understanding of this world. So, I offer this story as an example of the power of sharing:

A couple of days after sharing the story of the mighty Cooper’s Hawk I received a phone call from someone with great excitement in her voice. She, her family, and some friends had happened upon a Cooper’s Hawk while it was having a meal. She said it was at the corner of Monticello Rd. and Graves St., within close proximity of the previous sighting.

Norah and I launched out of the house, knowing the hawk might be moving on soon. Upon arriving we inspected the area for remaining evidence of the “meal”. It did not take long…the ground beneath a large evergreen tree was blanketed with pigeon feathers, some of them warm to the touch and fresh with blood. As we focused downward upon the fallen feathers, we noticed a small piece of fluffy feather spiraling down slowly. We both looked up, and there he was…about 5 feet away and above our heads… nestled in the densely packed limbs and foliage of the coniferous eastern redcedar (a wonderfully hardy native evergreen tree). Immediately he sprung from his position and took to the air, dropping his featherless food. The carcass nearly hit Norah in the head…a three-quarters eaten pigeon with few recognizable parts. She called it “meat”, and said it looked like the chicken we get at the store…and you wonder “where on earth do they shop?”. It was surprisingly similar, plucked feathers and pink bumpy skin.

After spending a moment prodding the guts and skin, we were off again, in hot pursuit of the hunter. It landed in a large red maple nearby, and we watched it there for about five minutes. What fun! A story shared had returned, and now it goes out again. Norah has been sharing the story of the hunter with others, as have I. Many folks have had similar experiences recently. Individuals have shared with me their observations over the past week; individuals living from the Piedmont of Pennsylvania to the Blue Ridge of SW Virginia (the Cooper’s lives in most of the United States). The eight or so people that spotted the feeding hawk near Belmont Bridge have been sharing their stories. This is how it happens. This is how awareness grows. These are the seeds of appreciation and understanding.

So, when you discover something out there that inspires wonder and awe, that piques your interest, do not hesitate to share with others. The effort in doing so is tiny compared to what is gained in return!
Related Story: A Master of the Hunt, the first encounter with the Cooper’s Hawk of Belmont Bridge

3 thoughts on “The Power of Sharing Stories

  1. nancy n says:

    Is there any concern that the hawk was interrupted while eating and may not have eaten its needed food that day? Did it return to its prey to finish eating? Just curious…..

  2. Devin S. Floyd says:

    I would say that, yes, there is a good chance the bird was interupted while eating. This is the double edged sword that comes with observation. If your intent is to not disturb, one should not get to close. But, if one does not get close, there is only so much one can learn.
    While I think much of the disturbance that is education related is worth the tradeoff many times over, we must remain conscious of our impacts…or else our interests will squash that which we are interested in!
    Thanks Nancy.
    And to anonymous, I also agree. The reality is that this bird is adapted to an urban landscape in which disturbance is probably a continuum…it is a normality. I also think that this bird has nearly zero competition for food and hundreds, if not thousands, of fresh morsels of birdy to choose from all day everyday…within the range of about a football field. Chances are, this city hawk is as fat as us city folk.

    cheers- Devin

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