Posted by: poet kate hutchinson | July 12, 2013

Baby Bird Boom

robins-feeding-houska250Maybe I’m just more tuned into them this year, but it seems like the neighborhood birds are hatching record broods in every bush and tree.  I’ve had robins feeding their babies worms on my front porch; sparrows on the back patio dropping seeds into open maws; goldfinches teaching chicks how to perch at the feeder; and — most fun of all — the annual fledgling red-tailed hawk screeching to beat the band from morning till night.  This morning he (or she?) was practicing his flying across the parking circle in the center of our town homes, swooping down over the heads of the siding work crews, much to their delight!  Then up he’d fly to the top of a tree again to squawk for mama’s attention.

hawk babyEach year the hawks hatch one or two babies in their nest high above the golf course I live next to, and each year we are treated to the antics of the fledglings.  Eventually, they make it over to the ball fields across the street, where they fly from one tall light pole to another, causing red alerts for the various smaller birds nesting in the bushes and spruces that surround the fields.  Mixed squadrons of redwing blackbirds, robins, and sparrows attack both mother and baby hawk with such admirable fierceness, it’s impossible not to cheer them on!

Yet hawks must eat too.  Best not to think about how baby critters in nests and grasses make the tastiest and easiest meals.blackbird attacks hawk

My indoor birds know instinctively to cower from hawks, even though they’ve never seen the outside of their cages.  On the few occasions when a red-tail or Swainson’s hawk has lit in my back birch tree or on my fence, my little finches drop to the bottoms of their cages and draw themselves up to skinny little statues, not moving a muscle for another twenty minutes after the godzilla bird has flown away.

This is a poem I wrote several years ago, but I think of it each spring when the new resident baby hawk starts to screech.


You screech and squawk so that

even the golfers take their eyes

off their elusive white dotsnesting hawks 275

to crane their necks in wonder.

And there you perch

flapping and stretching

Dogberry-like on a branch

newly claimed for your own.

Like a teenager you scream

demanding attention and

independence in equal measure:

I am!  I am!  I am!  I am!hawk flying

How comical your gangly legs

feathers akimbo and beak agape

yet how awesome the promise

of your sleek majestic flight.



  1. Enjoyed this Kate. I enjoy seeing the birds, but sure don’t know much about them like you do. Know this is another connection you shared with your Mom (and Dad). Hope to get to see you soon. Love, JO

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