Tuesday, November 3, 2009


This morning at South Shore Drive and 56th Street I heard the autumn crows cawing in fine form. As I turned onto the sidewalk along the park, something flew up in front of me; my impression was of a mourning dove, although I hadn't picked up the characteristic whrrrr! of its takeoff. When I looked up, I was surprised to see that what I'd flushed was a small hawk.

I've heard of hawks in Jackson Park/Wooded Isle, but have not seen one except perhaps high in the sky. Here was one perched in the tree in front of me, so of course I couldn't find the iPhone in my bag as I searched frantically and wished for a better camera (and that I weren't on the way to work). As I hunted, I couldn't tell if the bird had flown off or was still there looking at me quizzically. Finally, I dug out the iPhone, input the code, launched the camera application, and took the best photo I could with what I had.

The hawk flew to the ground. Irrationally, I thought it might be injured as it hopped awkwardly around, so I walked toward it, then it took refuge on a lower branch of a bush. Probably feeling threatened by my persistent interest, it flew off. When last I saw it, it was skimming the grass, then soaring high overhead. I still wondered if it had a leg injury—another one of my impressions, like that of a mourning dove.

Fly free, friend.

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