My Florida Backyard is host to all the activities of nature. We see mating and fighting, work and play, birth and death, on a regular basis. Death is part of the circle, from wasps carrying off caterpillars, to hawks picking off ducklings one by one. A lover of nature must accept death as natural and essential, even when it's difficult to watch.
The clamor of crows is common in our backyard. They like to gather in the pine trees nearby, seemingly in the hundreds, and they're never silent when they do. Still, the noise this afternoon seemed louder than normal, and when went to the back window to watch, crows were circling and swooping in a way we hadn't seen before. Finally, we saw the red-shouldered hawk standing in the yard, being dive-bombed by the crows one by one.
It wasn't until the hawk flew off that we realized what was causing the commotion - his flight was hindered by the freshly-killed crow he was carrying in his talons. In fact, if you look closely at the picture above, you can see the crow in the grass beneath his tail. The other crows continued to dive at him as he flew, their desperate cries for their fallen brother louder than any we'd ever heard.
The hawk was forced to drop the crow before he made it very far - it was really too heavy for him to fly with. He perched in a nearby tree for awhile, assessing the situation, but eventually flew off, leaving the dead crow behind, where it will undoubtedly be found by vultures before long.
Even when it isn't pretty, the behavior of wild creatures is fascinating. We're constantly reminded of the huge amount of life present here in our little corner of suburbia, and we're grateful for the chance to see wildlife in action on a regular basis in My Florida Backyard.