This is a rather sad and somewhat graphic story, so be warned.
I was standing at the large window that overlooks our garden a couple of weeks ago, watching a little robin bathing in the bird bath. The evening breeze was ruffling the trees and birdsong was in the air. Suddenly the robin darted into the hedge and as I was wondering what had startled it, one of the collared doves that live in the garden delicately flew down towards the overhanging tree right by the window. As I watched her, mid-glide, just four or five feet from me, something fast and ruthless swept past right by me and the dove seemed to explode into a puff of feathers. A young sparrowhawk had grabbed her and, within an instant, was on the ground in front of me, ripping the struggling dove to pieces as she struggled, pale grey feathers flying everywhere.
I was undone.
The man said to let it be, with a bird of prey the damage is major and immediate and there would be no saving our gentle feathered friend. I couldn’t tear my eyes away and watched the sparrowhawk take his time and eat his fill. It’s difficult to play the role of observer when nature seems so cruel, but the ‘hawk needs to fill his belly the same as any other bird I suppose. I have had a close encounter with a sparrowhawk before, an older female possibly looking to feed her young; it’s likely this young male was her offspring. It’s just that that very afternoon, the man and I had been sitting on the couch watching the dove and her mate canoodling on the fence in front of us. The gentle creatures seemed to be kissing and cuddling and then kissing again as part of their mating play, and it had made us smile and want to hold hands.