Stepping out onto the deck Sunday morning, my eye caught a glimpse of what I thought was a crow fly up into the Linden tree. But something about it wasn’t quite crow. Moving over to the tree, I saw a morning dove on the ground behaving like it had a broken wing – much like they behave when they have a nest nearby. The strategy is to distract a predator away from the nest by feigning an injury in a ploy to get the predator to chase the adult dove that is, in fact, healthy.
But it is too late in the season for doves to have a nest. Moving closer, it was clear this dove was indeed injured. And there, perched in the tree, what on first glimpse was a crow, was actually a hawk. The tuft of feathers nearby told the rest of the tale. The hawk had missed a clean kill of his quarry.
Moving closer to the dove to see how badly it had been injured, it took off but could barely fly enough to clear the fence into the part of the front yard that encloses my two terriers. They were on it, well, like a hawk. I got to them before they had time to do more than give it a good sniff. Lifting the dove, I could see that a good portion of it’s side had been gouged away by the hawk. Clearly, this bird was done for. I carefully lifted the dove and placed it next to a large stone on the outside of the fence.
My first thought was to put it there so the hawk could finish his task and nature would run its course for the zillionth time. What comes naturally for the hawk would have been an unpleasant task for me.
There was more to my thinking, but upon reflection, I thought to ask around and find out what friends and acquaintances would do. Leave the dove for the hawk or put it out of its misery and bury it? The answers are telling.
My thinking was leaving the dove for the hawk was the natural way. It was also a way for the dove’s life to serve a purpose other than dying. By serving as food for the hawk, the dove’s death serves a purpose closely aligned with the designs of nature. Much more so than if it had been hit by a car and left as road kill.
Ah, but wouldn’t the bugs in the soil be served by the dove’s carcass being buried? Yes, but the micro scavengers will still have their piece once the hawk has finished. Eventually, those same class of bugs will have their turn at the hawk. But for now, this meal belonged to the hawk. The scavengers would have to wait.