several of the volunteers at the bird hospital didn't even know we had a cooper's hawk in the waterfowl room; he was stunned, his legs locked in a shriek, slumped over in his handmade donut of paper and towels like a bird he'd eat under different circumstances (the red-tailed hawk in the next cage, by contrast, burned like a war god if you dared a glance at him). "he's very sweet," R said. "go ahead and try to make him more comfortable in there." i reached in without gloves and lifted the little accipiter, tried to fold his talons in such a way that he could sit with dignity if he couldn't perch. a compromised raptor is a killer that's been magicked into prey, and he rarely recovers from the shock; i felt every second of the terrible privilege of him in my hands.

he died, as i'd known he would; he'd sustained mortal puncture wounds in a fight with another hawk. R had probably known the moment he came in. "the only bird that ever taloned me was a cooper's hawk," she said. "he was hooded, still under anesthesia after surgery, and found me blind."

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Tiffany Spencer said...
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