by Sandra Coleman
HawkEye joined our family suddenly one summer day many years ago. While trimming hedge, my husband had severed a tree limb that shattered his nest; in a flash the baby hawk plunged to the ground. Now I realize there is a government agency that could/should have been notified, but we, along with our young children, chose the intriguing task of raising this struggling orphan to adulthood. My husband built a pen with wood and woven wire, and Kim and Rick enjoyed fetching edible nourishment for such a wild thing. His basic diet included mice, baby sparrows, nest snatched, and frogs, upon which he would plunge, devouring instantly, always leaving a small pile of yet undigested bugs on his cage floor. One day, surmising that such a reptile would provide a gourmet treat of special delight, Rick, strolling by the creek in our yard, caught a snake. There ensued a flutter of feathers, shrill squawking and wild frenzied panic, not from the long black victim, but from the terrified and indignant predator. So much for fine dining cuisine.
Although we grew attached, we knew that HawkEye was wired for the wild. So we set upon the task of teaching him to fly without a mother’s example. He knew the purpose of his wings and struggled mightily, short bursts at first, then longer and higher flights. In a few months he was soaring free, returning daily for handouts. When strolling through the yard it was sometimes disconcerting suddenly to hear a rush of wings followed by talons clutching your shoulder. Rick, about 5 years old, loved to fish from our creek. One day we witnessed the following: Rick was pulling a small perch from the water with his fishing pole, when suddenly, out of nowhere, HawkEye swooped down and deftly snatched the prized perch from the hook. An angry little boy shook his fist and yelled, “Thief.” We, however, all laughed, marveling at the precision and beauty of the aerial maneuver.
Eventually HawkEye’s visits grew fewer and fewer and when months had gone by with no sight of him, I set out to find him by walking down the road. In a field across the road, on a huge round hay bale, perched the proud bird. He let me come up to him, and it was then that I saw his trophy and our assurance of his survival, a decapitated rabbit at the foot of the bale. We never saw him again, but the memories are sweet. “The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owl, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen.” Isaiah 43:28