Since volunteering at the Raptor Center in Columbia I’ve been paying closer attention to birds of prey in the wild. In our vicinity the hawks are plenteous, staking out their hunting territory as they do. An average hawk stalks an area equivalent to about one square mile.
Because the food source of hawks includes not only mammals and reptiles, but smaller birds, hawks are bad news when they show up near the roosting area of other birds. Only the most brash birds are willing to get in the face of the stronger, deadlier hawk, however. Like crows, for instance.
Crows are big, aggressive and smart. They are tough enough to take on the neighborhood bully. If not in a fist fight, then throwing rocks, taunting and letting the air out of his bike tires. Crows harass hawks so that they will get out of town.
Because crows are so social, and hawks are most usually solitary hunters, the scenario usually involves several crows ganging up on the one threat, the hawk. They swoop, dive bomb, raid and shriek until the hawk has had enough. He’s not afraid, just irritated. When he takes flight they usually give him an escort to the county line. And don’t come back, really.
Yesterday a hawk was proudly perched on a pole out behind the church. It was near evening rousting time and the other birdies were settling into their trees for the night. The presence of the hawk was not welcome, not at all. For some reason one crow, abandoned by his mates, took the fight to the big boy. And he swooped and spit and cussed. The hawk paid him no never-mind. But eventually, the hawk launched off the pole to search for more serene surroundings. The solitary crow flew him out of Dodge.
Sometimes all it takes is a solitary voice to stand against tyranny, injustice, harm, violence or abuse. One voice can do it. Certainly silence will not. But the most effective strategy to offset the neighborhood bully is a flock working together. That group of protest is taken seriously. Mobilizing many voices as one voice has its effect.
I think of the way that women in Bangladeshi villages organized to quell wife battering there. No one woman could stand against the stronger, more aggressive male. But they started organizing. And whenever a woman was battered not one, but a dozen angry women showed up at his hut. That usually did it. There were just too many crows and hawk stopped, moved on, ceased and desisted.
Even if the crows don’t shed a drop of blood, pluck out one feather, their presence – active and persistent – makes all the difference.
Let those who have ears hear the story of the Hawk and the Crow.