Reign of the Winged Hunter
I have chosen to reign near tangled limbs of oak dripping moss and shallow waters plied by alligators’ unhurried metronome tails.
Far and wide across pickerel skeletons and waving sedge I soar by day on tireless wings or stalk from chosen perch. My ears discern the lowest rustle or frantic dash of demure mammalian feet. With binocular eyes I lock in on the suggestion of movement while instinct calculates with precision, depth and distance. Sure of my prey, I drop like lightning from above. Employing powerful talons I seize, pierce and kill. With muscular legs and hooked beak I tear warm meat from bone and I am strengthened. Sunlit hour by hour I seek mouse or frog, snake or fish, or even tasty insect.
Within spring’s lush thicket my mate broods on cupped nest of sticks and grass. A portion of my catch is for her. Soon our freckled eggs will burst from around wet-feathered chicks on wobbly legs. Our young crave and cry out for protein, so I must intensify my hunting. Defender of my own, I watch for greedy owls who would steal my nest and murder my chicks. Sometimes, noisy crows on shiny black wings join me in routing these invaders. Once our eyeasses* fledge, we will part and my mate will resume her own hunt. Nearly 25% larger than I, she seeks slow but sizable prey of rabbit or raccoon.
We are survivors. If necessary we adapt to urban vistas of wayside park or yard. Stop and admire our red-shouldered beauty, our vigor and our liberty. Hearken to our screaming cry. Respect our kind and grant us our place.
* eyeasses: raptors still in the nest