Red-tailed Hawk

Karen Hansen

bigstock-The bright yellow of this yello

My Spark Bird story:

In the early 2000s I lived in Watertown, MA. The house behind me had a split-rail fence and a massive oak tree, and the owners would be out feeding birds every day. To be honest, the rest of us were not thrilled with this…. The seed attracted critters and tons of pigeons, who left droppings everywhere. They roosted in the oak tree, which was menacing enough since it had pulled apart at its fork, after crashing some heavy branches on a neighboring roof.

One day I looked out my window and saw a gigantic bird on the fence. Its legs were like trunks, and I’d never seen such a large bird in Watertown—much less my yard. I thought it was an eagle, but what did I know? I watched it for 30 minutes until it disappeared into the oak tree. My bird-loving neighbors said it was a red-tailed hawk, and that it was becoming more common to see them because of habitat encroachment. It came back a few times over the next week, and I was always excited to see it.

After that, I was grateful for that tree. I’d wake up every morning and suddenly be more attuned to the birdsong. On weekends, I’d sit on my deck watching the avian interplay, discovering a new source of calm. It was years before I took my first birding course. But I never looked at my yard—or any place—the same way again.