The other day I was out early to feed the yard kids. I was laden down with thistle for Finch and crew, mixed seeds for Woodpecker, Cardinal, Dove and others, corn for Rabbit and calling for Crow because I had some salmon trimmings for them- when suddenly the air was filled with a riotous noise! Crow and mate were screaming an alarm. And they brought the kids to help. Instead of silently watching me from Grandmother Maple to wait for the fish, they swooped past me to mob a shadowy streak that crossed the yard.
Then I saw it. Or I almost saw it.
Two small buff-tan feathers were drifting through the air in the still morning dawn. I looked past the down and saw Sharp-Shinned Hawk just landing in the snow with a struggling dove in his talons (his prize almost as big as he). Crow was screaming along with the rest of her clan. Sharp-Shinned was screaming right back as he mantled his catch with outstretched wings, trying to keep control of Dove who was putting up a fight. For a moment it went on, emptying the yard of visitors, hurrying small birds and squirrels alike to the nearest cover to wait in silence for the danger to pass. But in the next moment, distracted by Crow, little Sharp-Shinned lost his purchase and Dove scrambled into the dense underbrush leaving him still mantling, still screaming back and looking confused, trying to figure out just what went wrong with the hunt amongst the cacophony of noise.
The prize lost, Sharp-Shinned knew to do his own scrambling and lifted from the snow into the cold air to escape Crow’s mobbing. Crow, left with no one to antagonize, brought her family to Grandmother Maple to wait quietly for the salmon I had not yet put down.
And then there was silence, as if nothing had happened.
I would have missed that moment if not for Crow. How she saw it I do not know. But it made me wonder how many things we miss because we ourselves are distracted by thoughts in our mind or turning over things about coming events when events are happening all around us. How many seconds, minutes, hours or days do we miss because we are not present in the moment that shows itself? How many opportunities do we pass by? How many would be friends walk past as we hurry through our lives? How many smiles and good wishes do we cast aside for lack of notice as we hurry along in our internal world?
The yard slowly returned to some activity, but cautiously, for Sharp-Shinned had failed so he still hunted – maybe nearby. The entire event took 1.5 minutes, then poof! the moment was gone. Just a few feathers bounced across the snow to tell the tale. I might not have even noticed them in a yard full of birds and feeders. Except for Crow the Tattle-Tale pointing out the hunt…
On any given day, just how many things do we miss?