A letter from a bird

Swainson's-Hawk-0031

Hawks are circling me.

Since I’ve been working as a print production coordinator I see them every day, sometimes as many as 7 at once. Initially they were just lazily soaring blips in the sky. I started carrying binoculars with me so I could get a better look.

A little over a month ago I posted on Facebook that one had flown by so close I saw it poop. A friend of mine responded wondering about the significance of these birds being in my life. I responded by saying that the area around my new job abounded with ground squirrels, which is what they eat, so that was probably why.

Of course I do have a solid occulty/shamanistic/witchy streak that wanted there to be greater significance but at the time I was trying to be pragmatic.

Since then it feels increasingly like they are trying to get my attention. They’ve been getting closer and closer, so that I could clearly see their beak shape and wing markings. Finally the other day one was circling the parking lot when I was outside. It was gliding very slowly and finally hovered directly over my head for a moment, not 5 feet above, right between me and the sun.

The light shone through its wing feathers. I could see individual spots in the patterns of its markings, imperfections where the feathers were a bit ragged along the edges of its wings. Its shadow must have looked like a mask over my face. It hovered perfectly still for a long moment before gliding away.

And I said to it, “Ok, I’m listening. Can I have a feather to confirm?”

Now at this point I should mention that this isn’t the first relationship of this type I’ve had with birds. It happened with eagles one summer. Ironically despite about eight or nine sightings I never recognized what they were, I thought they were hawks! It got to the point where one visited me in a dream. It spread its wings out and turned its head to one side like the E Pluribus Unum symbol on the U.S. dollar bill. It was as if it was saying. “Eagle. EAGLE. Get it?”

Not a hawk.

Not a hawk.

The high point of that time was riding my bike around the reservoir when this great swooshing shadow flew over my head close enough that it ruffled my hair. I stopped and looked back and there was a massive golden eagle (which I still didn’t recognize! I had to look it up after) perched on a chain link fence. I very gently set my bike down and slowly approached it. When I was about 10 feet away it flicked a wing at me as if saying, “That’s close enough.”

I stood looking at it for a long time. It sat perfectly still on the fence. Several minutes passed and I was beginning to contemplate leaving the bird in peace and continuing my ride. Then it spread its wings and swooped directly toward me. Before I could do more than flinch it snatched a mouse from the grass three feet in front of me and gobbled it whole before flying back to the fence. It was so close I could see the mouse’s tail whip around in the bird’s talons and hear it scream.

So that was really cool. Especially when I read that golden eagles tend to be highly intolerant of humans.

Anyway back to here and now and the hawks.

I collect feathers. The oldest one I have is an owl feather that was given to me by a Seneca pipe carrier named Jenny Running Wolf when I was 16. Every time I am honoured with a new feather, life changes in interesting ways.

Anyway, the very next day after asking Hawk for a feather, what do you think I found under a tree, sparkling with raindrops from a shower that had passed leaving a radiantly blue sky? A 10 inch long wing feather of course!

Now, as I said I have tried to be pragmatic in my thinking. In an area that abounds with hawks one is not unlikely to find a feather sooner or later if one keeps their eyes open. Could still be pure coincidence right?

That evening I met my boyfriend in a park for a picnic. I’d been keeping him updated about the hawks because we are both kind of nature geeks. So I pulled out the feather to show him. And at that moment who comes soaring over the trees? Yup. My new friend Hawk.

Of course my more skeptical readers will continue to insist that this is all coincidence and that birds don’t talk to people. And this is because they have no imagination.

However, in case I were still inclined to doubt, yesterday I was doing tarot readings at a carnival. An absolutely delightful woman from the spoken word scene happened to be here. Her name is Orunamamu. She is black with the awesomest southern accent and a silver star on her tooth that flashes when she talks. She wears eccentric clothing and crazy hats and is about 80 years old. Her business card says “Storyteller/Raconteur” and she is just the most fun old lady ever. I want to grow up to be just like her.

She sat down at my table to rest and without any kind of preamble she grabs my hand and says, “If you ever find a feather, a soft and tickly feather, pick it up! Put it in your pocket. A feather is a letter from a bird!”

I threw back my head and laughed at that… and saw a graceful, soaring shadow cross the sun.

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One Response to “A letter from a bird”

  1. […] me it’s too long, boring, stupid, insipid, offensive, conceited or you just don’t like my face. This will make me much happier than a […]

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