Friday, June 26, 2015

Kestrel Encounter

Earlier this week Beezy came running to tell me that our outdoor cat, Prince, had wounded a really beautiful bird. "We have to help it!" she exclaimed. The creature was on its back, staring up at us, so I got some thick gloves and turned it over. I was surprised when it turned its head back around to face me, like an owl. Is its neck broken, I wondered? Beezy's cousin was visiting. The girls fetched a basket, and as I tried to transfer the bird to it, he fluttered to a bush and out of sight.

A few minutes later, the girls had the bird in the basket and on the front porch. "I think this is a kestrel," I said, amazed. I only knew this because a friend of ours has been posting pictures on Facebook of kestrels from a tree in his yard. Beezy was gently caring for the bird by using a spray bottle to give it water. The cousins decided to try to feed him wild strawberries, but I realized with a sinking feeling that we wouldn't be able to feed this bird of prey unless we could catch some mice!

I called our vet, who told me to call the police station and get the number for the Department of Natural Resources. The operator got Officer Tom on the line, and before long, he was at our house to pick up the bird, a male kestrel, one of three true falcons. The others are the martin and the peregrine. I had to admire the cat for catching a falcon, but oh dear! Officer Tom was worried that the bird was pretty non-responsive. If he had brain damage, he would have to be put down. The girls had both touched his talons, which evidently was a dangerous thing to do, as these birds are also known as chickenhawks! The talons could have dug in and been extremely difficult to remove, designed as they are by God to grab an entire chicken.

Ironically, I had been worried about not spending enough time out in nature with my child and missing out on learning experiences. And here Nature came knocking right on our door. I heard the song of the kestrel from a video our friend took of the birds at his house and realized that we have more of them living in close proximity to our property. In fact, one just landed on my fence with something in its mouth!

Beezy took some videos yesterday of two of them at the top of our TV antenna, one with what appeared to be a frog. I had been thinking that the birds were especially loud this year, and now I know why! I think Charlotte Mason herself would have been duly impressed with our nature studies. The kestrel, who was named Sarah before we knew he was a boy, was alive as of the day before yesterday, but I did not get a call back after leaving a message with Officer Tom yesterday. So please keep Sarah in your prayers!

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