Monday, March 5, 2012

Hawk and dumpster

Our neighborhood in Newton has become territory for a red-tailed hawk. This Sunday morning I saw it flying from the dumpster behind the fancy restaurant on Lincoln St, drawn there no doubt by the aroma of pate de fois gras and garlic smashed potatoes. It landed on a utility wire and calmly watched the dog and me pass under it just a few feet down.

The presence of wild things is continually fascinating. In the city I can't help but think they are evolving in front of our eyes: learning to adapt to human cars and sidewalks and gardens and trash. Are they also enjoying the other fruits of civilization, such as heart disease, allergies, cancer, stress, fast food, engine noise, dirty air, and neon? Perhaps they really do stick to a traditional lifestyle, lots of exercise, nest of sticks, diet of mice and rabbits and voles and squirrels and the occasional miniature poodle. More likely, our hawk now builds a nest of police tape and bubble wrap, sits around on wires waiting for its entertainment, and eats bits of bread and Halloween candy and Doritos off the sidewalk. I fully expect, in a few thousand years, that a red-tailed hawk will have a gray tail, obese belly, balding feathers, dull talons, and an attitude of entitlement. Its reaction to danger will no longer be fight or flight; it will glower or cower like any other higher animal.

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