Today, we have the finale of our Rhode Island Red versus Red-Tailed Hawk battle to the death. Remember that last week, we ended with Beulah having a close call when Old Red launched an attack. Let’s see what happens today.
Courtesy of common en.wikimedia.com
ME AND BEULAH AND THE RED-TAILED HAWK
I smoothed Beulah’s feathers, checked for broken skin on her back where the talons had slashed at her, and set her back on the ground. “Get on in the coop now.”
She minded me this time.
The next morning, I was feeding the chickens in the coop and counting the days until school started again when I spotted that big red-tail up on the pole taking a powerful lot of interest in what was going on down below. I finished up and went back out in the yard and shook my fist at the feathered killer. She ignored me, so I got out my slingshot—the one made from a Y notch of a hickory tree. I’m pretty good with it, but the stone I slung clacked against the creosoted wood right below the bird. She just give me a look and flew off to the north. I couldn’t follow her very far because of trees breaking up the skyline.
I turned at the sound of some familiar clucking and saw Beulah making a beeline for me. I’d left the coop gate open. All the other hens was busy pecking up the seeds I’d spread out for them, but not my girl. She was coming to me. She knew I kept a few seeds in my pocket just for her. Halfway there, she squawked and turned around, her legs making a blur. I knew without looking that Old Red was back.
I darted for the coop and slammed the door shut just as a fierce bundle of feathers and beak and sharp talons whooshed past me. That hawk slammed into the chicken wire on the gate with a bang, setting all the hens to cackling and scattering this way and that. They didn’t have mind enough to know they was safe inside the coop. Not quite believing what I was seeing, I watched that hawk bounce off the wire and hit the ground on her back. Before I could move, she scrambled to her feet with a loud flutter of feathers, took half a dozen staggering steps, and got herself airborne. My boot made contact with her tail, giving her a little extra lift.
It took me half the afternoon to coax Beulah off her nest and out of the hen house. Didn’t manage to get her out of the coop. That was okay, she was safe there. Besides, I had other things to do.
After two mornings with no sight of the red-tail, I figured the hawk had learned her lesson and gone on to better hunting. So I didn’t put a stop to it when Beulah followed me out of the pen into the barnyard where we played a game of chasing one another around the yard. On a pass by the back porch, I grabbed ma’s broom propped outside the door. Beulah liked me to shove it at her. She squawked and flapped her wings to jump over it. Then I run and she chased me.
Beulah was almost clear across the barnyard from me when I caught movement in the big oak I sometimes like to climb. It took a moment to spot Old Red perched on a limb up near the top. I let out a yell and raced toward Beulah, but she musta figured we was still playing, ‘cause she cackled and run away. So now it was a deadly race between the hawk and me. She folded her wings and dropped down on my unsuspecting baby while I ran to intercept her. I didn’t make it, but I was close enough to wield that broom like Babe Ruth swatting a baseball.
All hell broke loose. Contact about jarred my arms right outa their sockets. There was a big thud as broom straw met feathers and muscle and velocity. The broom handle broke. I landed on my backside. Beulah squawked and scratched my face as she raced over me, headed for the coop. I sat up and spotted the hawk laying in the dirt. Not moving.
Cripes. I hadn’t wanted to kill the bird. Just save my Beulah. Then as I watched, a wing fluttered. The hawk squirmed. Slowly, the bird got to her feet and swayed like pa when he’s been too long at the neighbor’s still. She took a step. Another. After staggering around for a bit, she sorta squatted down, spread her wings, and managed to get off the ground. She made it to the oak’s lowest limb and sat there for a good five minutes. With a final look down at me, she flew off and circled to get some altitude. Then she disappeared to the south.
Me and Beulah ain’t seen her since.
There you have it, the private war with our narrator and Beulah on one side and Old Red on the other. Rest assured, nature lovers, that the hawk is just fine… and apparently learned a valuable lesson. Hope you enjoyed the story.
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