Not too long ago I watched a first year Cooper’s Hawk take down a squirrel. The hunt was purposeful; a needed meal. I stood very still, some forty-five minutes, before I turned away.The hawk’s process of living, and the squirrel’s process of dying, came more slowly than my inexperienced judgment would have guessed. My watch was a meaningful learning experience. I won’t pretend that my watch was easy; but it became a critical memory that changed my understanding of life and death. This watch began my understanding that few of Mother Nature’s creation ever die quickly.
Whether this young Cooper’s Hawk relied solely on innate skills or came equipped from parental guidance, she was a skilled hunter:
I was caught by surprise by her constant backward and upward looks. This skilled hunter understood that she was most vulnerable to other predators while focused on her meal:
I choose not to detail what I watched; what I learned; what were the sounds of life and death. I am not an ornithologist. I cannot tell you the percentage of instinct; the percentage of training that brought her to this day.But I can tell you that when this hawk stopped, and looked me in the eye, I saw the intelligence of a wild thing. The intelligence of Mother Nature’s creation that surpasses human understanding: