Monday, October 20, 2008

Blame it on the Buzzard

Buzzard is another one of the words that does not mean the same on both sides of the Pond. When a birder friend pointed and said, "Look at the buzzard" on a woodlands walk, I was looking for the featherless head of the hard working scavenger bird. It was some time later before we managed to clarify the confusion by referring to the proper Latin name--Buteo. "Oh, I say, as the light dawns--hawks."

I see the hard working hawks perched on fence posts as I drive along the road. Sadly, I sometimes also see them on the road. If they are doing street cleaning of a rabbit or somesuch, they are very slow to get aloft. A careless driver, either not noticing or not caring that the hawk is not going to get out of their way as quickly as usual, can leave both hawk and his erstwhile meal on the highway.

These smallish hawks may cause some grief for small lambs, but they are more likely to show up to harass the hooded crows, which can and do hrm the lambs, or wood pigeons or gulls. Thus, I was not unhappy to see a hawk show up on one of the fence posts along our farm road shortly after the arrival of a batch of crows.

This hard working hawk, however, reverted to buzzard in my estimation as I saw him sitting on the roof over the back door where my cats wait for me in the morning. Two kittens have recently joined the throng and they might be hawk meal size. Perhaps the hawk was merely taking refuge there to catch his breath from the 70 mile per hour gusts. I would not begrudge him that. Perhaps he was the one who picked up the little mouse that Runty, the littlest farm cat, left there as a gift for me when I brought his breakfast out to him. I would not begrudge that to the hawk either.

These charitable interpretations of the buzzard's appearance, however, were tempered by my recent readings. My husband is writing a fictionalized interpretation of the Battle of Raudabjorg. It opens with a soothsayer making dire predictions. So that lowering buzzard became the focal point, the explanation for all of today's mishaps: a missing piece of paper that I had put someplace safe and had now become invisible, burning the black eyed peas that I had bought because they reminded me of home, an email that came back orphaned. I attributed it all to that poor hapless buzzard trying to make his own way in the gusty winds.

The wind has roused itself to a more consistent rowdiness--the occasional gusts have become the norm with more frenzied peaks. Inside safe and comparatively warm, I can forgive the buzzard for his influence and hope that he finds a safe haven from the winds.


At 7:24 PM, Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

Did not know about the different meaning of 'buzzard.'

I know about crows as predators, though. My wife gets very upset about rabbits eating flowers in her garden, but when crows raided a rabbit's burrow a couple of years back and took off with the wriggling little bunnies -- teeny things really -- right in front of us, her sympathies immediately switched over to the rabbits.

Looking at crows on the ground you can see the dinosaur lineage. Seriously.

Or you could see it.

Sadly, the crow population in this area has crashed because of the West Nile virus. Crows, as communal birds, were particularly hard hit. The blue jays have bounced back and the cardinals, but the crows are still missing.

At 7:29 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

It is surprising how quickly our sympathies can switch, isn't it? The West Nile virus was just showing up when I left US. I am sorry to hear that crows have been hard hit. For all their nastiness, they are a much needed part of the bioscape.


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