A wild start to my New Year

Foot and feather, Summer 2015. Credit: Erica Cirino

Foot and feather, Summer 2015. Credit: Erica Cirino

I'm hoping the incredible way my New Year's Day began is a sign of more incredible things to come in 2016. This is how I described what happened this morning in my journal:


First Year

January 1, 2016

As I walk alongside the old wooden fence

I feel something fly overhead,

Hear the quiet air of the winter morning

Being broken by the sound of soaring wings.

I pause, 

And looking up, I see nothing.

But as I turn my attention

Back to walking along the fence

She is right there before me

Meeting my gaze as I stare in amazement:

A young hawk.

I talk to her for a few minutes

While I simultaneously and silently marvel

At her wide, gold eyes,

Muscular yellow feet,

And sharp, curved beak.

I notice her smooth white breast feathers

Speckled with brown,

Are unruffled. 

She is small in size.

And her tail is not yet red,

Meaning she is yet to begin

Her second year on Earth.

Eying her powerful talons,

I boldly reach out 

And touch one of the soft, gray-and-white tail feathers. 

Surprised but not scared,

She lifts a foot

Then places it back down

Firmly on the fence.

I retract my hand,

And then again eyes meet,

Human and avian,

And I tell her to be strong

To survive this year,

So she can return

When she earns her red feathers.


This year marks my sixth as a licensed wildlife rehabber, and in those six years I've encountered many red-tailed hawks, but none like this one!