Yup, that time of year again.

While others are decking halls and fa-la-la-ing, I’m scanning trees, moving food bowls and leaving windows open a teensy, weensy bit so I can hear the ducks in case they need me. Not that I hope they need me. Not that any given day or hour they will need me. You know, just in case.


This week marks the one-year anniversary of our first hawk attack and call me unsentimental but I’d rather not celebrate with a repeat raptor visit. To avoid that unpleasant outcome, I’ve started acting like that kid in the old M. Night Shyamalan film except I see birds, not dead people.

Take, for example, this past weekend. My mom, my daughter and I were walking out of a charming museum next to a 19th century presidential estate and what’s the first thing I do? That’s right. Spot a raptor, a bitty thing at the tippy top of a leafless 70-foot tree.

I blurted: “Hey, Mom, isn’t that a kestrel?”

She looked. Couldn’t see it.

“Where?” she asked.

“There,” I indicated. “Right above that light post, follow the left side of that tree, a little to the right of that other tree and–”

My daughter peered into the drizzly sky.

“Oh, there!” she exclaimed.

I walked around to get a better look. Thing is, I’ve always loved kestrels. Technically, not a hawk but a spirited falcon, even more appealing and rarely seen in our neck of the Eastern woods.

“Yeah, you’re right,” my mother confirmed. “That’s a kestrel. How’d you see it?”

How did I see it? Well, let’s just say, I’m a duck owner. Of course, I see hawks. And falcons. And owls. And, alas, even ravens. Any large avian raises my hackles the same way it raises my birds’. Sometimes it’s triggered by a squirrel’s chittering. Sometimes it’s a blue jay’s alarm cry. Sometimes it’s a weird stillness when you expect a yard full of peeps and twitters. It’s kind of hard to explain exactly but you just feel something’s off and you immediately start looking. In fact, it’s fair to say, if you’re a poultry owner and you wanna keep being a poultry owner, you really gotta pay attention to your sixth sense.

Wait, did you hear that?  Gotta go!


Copyright 2015, Lori Fontanes