It was a grisly sight first thing that morning. The garrotted dove lay lifeless on the lawn, a storm of feathers upon the dull green grass. Bright red blood seeped out of the neck wound, the purity of white blemished by death.

Near to its kill, the raptor looked on with an expression of huffed up pride and indignation. Not one to usually brave suburban gardens, this enclosed haven with its regular visitors of peace proved too irresistible for the falcon. What could go wrong?

Earlier, replete after eating fallen sunflower seeds, the doves ambled leisurely, without care, along their promenade route, bidding each other a quiet good morrow. Then the raptor struck. It was almost too easy. Yet, he had not taken into account the witness. Loud urgent slams on the glass followed. These he nonchalantly ignored. The raptor loomed over the stricken dove and gripped its corpse tightly in its talons.

Crash! A door was violently flung open. An angry shout. Then a pneumatic drill of curses. The raptor would never relent. Until a sudden flurry of towels as the human windmill careered towards him.

With a vicious squawk, the raptor took flight.

He would be back!

©Annika Perry, January 2020

97 thoughts on “THE RAPTOR

  1. We have some predatory birds in our neighborhood – it’s quite frightening to watch. And we also have turkey vultures that perch on the roofs of our houses, looking for something to eat. There’s a lot of drama in nature, isn’t there?

    1. Barbara, I love how you’re noticing and enjoying the drama of nature … most of the time it’s quite serene here watching the small birds on the feeder. The Falcon was unusual and yes, frightening! I don’t like the sound of those turkey vultures… are they like normal vultures?

      1. They look like turkeys – very strange – and they are huge. I juts passed a big party of them down the street, feasting on a deer that had been hit. At least they don’t attack living things, but disconcerting to see…

  2. Somehow I feel worse for the falcon who lost a nice meal, but I’m partial to birds of prey, anyway. Or is it because we have so many pigeons (rock doves) around the farm that we love seeing raptors reduce their numbers? In any case, a well-written post, Annika!

    1. Julie, it’s great to read your comment from the other side … that on the raptor’s side! I can understand that too pigeons can be a problem for farms, as are any flock of birds and how true that the falcons etc help to scare them away! The birds of prey are magnificent and I love watching them soar in the sky … not just feeding in my garden! (Reckon I’m a bit of a softie!😀)

    1. Mark, thank you so much! 😀 I wanted to convey the scene through my writing here and I was happy with the image of that too. Oh, I do wonder if we are becoming a bit ‘soft’ but it really was so unexpected and I loved the dove visitors so … no more alas! They’ve all moved on!

  3. Hmmm.. Now the raptor is hungry, and the dove, I assume, died anyway. I believe in the beauty of nature, on the concept of live and let live, but I also believe unless the dove was my pet, I’d allow the raptor to feed. I sound morbid, don’t I?

    1. Not morbid at all, Jina! I do admire your pragmatism. It wasn’t a pet dove, just a shock to see such a large bird above the dead dove. Yet at the same time, I feel we are partly to blame – if we didn’t feed the birds, the falcon wouldn’t have such an easy feed!

      I was compelled to write about it and to convey the incident … so some good came of the morning trauma, perhaps!

  4. Pingback: The Sunshine Blogger Award – Nominated by Author Mark Bierman – A chance to recognise blogging talent. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

    1. How true! I understand it when witnessed from further afield but a shock in ones garden! Fingers crossed but no return yet, though I’ve had sightings of it! Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday, Jennie!

  5. Behind the Story

    Was that you, Annika, with the flurry of towels? Some animals can’t be chased away easily. It reminds me of the day I saw a racoon sitting in my cherry tree, filling his stomach with my cherries. First I knocked on the window. Then I came outside and waved my arms. He just gave me a cheeky looked and continued eating. I shook a broom at him. No response. I threw some pebbles at him. He climbed a little higher and kept eating. Finally, I gave up and let him eat my cherries.

    This was a great piece of writing.

    1. Nicki, so glad you like my writing here – I was inspired by the course of events and wanted to convey them here!

      Blimey, that was one stubborn raccoon and I bet those cherries were just too tasty! I’m smiling at how nothing would shift him. We have a cherry tree in our garden and in the summer the blackbirds just feast away and are equally impervious to my shouts, threats and I just gave up on the cherries this year! Might try to rig up another system this Spring!😀

  6. All must eat. I have seen blue jays rob the nests of swallows that were nesting in my shed. They ate the youngsters’ heads, the brains being rich in essential lipids, leaving the bodies on the ground. Only one survived that year, keep well back beneath the sheet of cardboard that was overhanging the nest. Nature is indeed red in tooth and claw.

    1. Blimey, Lavinia! What an image of the blue jays and poor swallows, gruesome but I know, such is nature. Logical but our hearts don’t always react to the logic of a situation. I am glad one survived but all alone!

      Thank you so much for reading and your comment … a joy to see you on my blog. Welcome! 😀

  7. I loved reading about your vengeful angry self, Annika. I was right there with you. I’ve been seen yelling at the big black birds that take over our bird feeder, as well as the blue jays. It’s gotten to the point now that when I step off our front porch to confront the “big guys,” they squawk and leave, the song birds stay and (in my imagination) sing a thank you song. But. the raptors and hawks and owls have to eat. Just not our doves!! You captured your awe and shock beautifully.

    1. Pam, we are so similar! 😀 Seeing the practicalities that the birds of prey have to eat … not just the precious ones in our garden! Good for you for scaring away the black birds and blue jays … I can just imagine their angry squawks as they see you and yes, I’m sure the song birds are singing your praises! 😀 I’ve had success with frightening away the neighbourhood cats after a few of the smaller birds were killed and the cats now leave our garden well alone. Here is to creating a safe haven for our feathered friends and guiding the hunting birds to pastures anew. hugs xx

    1. Janice, you capture the dichotomy exactly … it was a huge privilege to see a peregrine falcon so close, yet I would have preferred this not to be in my garden, affecting the beautiful dove visitors!

    1. Thank you so much, Debby! It brought out the rawer side of my writing. As for coming back, it paid two visits to the garden but nothing since! There again, the doves have mostly disappeared!

  8. Love your description Annika, as usual… so gripping! Probably man learnt from his surroundings and that has become the way of the world. The sweetest and the vulnerable ones are attacked first. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much, Balroop – it was an intense start to the morning and I wanted to convey this here! 😀 How true that the most vulnerable are attacked first … what is fascinating is seeing how the doves have adapted their behaviour. They now fly as one huge flock and the few that have returned to the garden head immediately for the cover under the trees instead of prancing proudly on the open lawn!

    1. Mackey, I take it you have experienced something quite similar? It is shocking and so unexpected! I am so glad you enjoyed the imagery in this piece, I wanted to add verbal layers to help describe the attack and aftermath.

    1. Ahh … thank you so much and that means a lot to me from a writer as yourself, Mary! 😀 Oh, how true … we are lulled into a false sense of beauty with the cute smaller birds on the feeder forgetting the bigger ones are preparing to hunt!

    1. Jacqui, I love the idea of a ‘docu-drama’ … I hadn’t been able to think of a genre name for this piece and your suggestion works perfectly! Thank you! 😀Yep, I agree, it is part of nature just not the usual hunting grounds for birds of prey!

      Hope you’re having a lovely weekend, Jacqui! 😀

  9. A wonderful piece of writing Annika.. Our gardens are such peaceful havens for the birds we love and feed… I know all too well the carnage those birds of prey can leave when they swoop in unexpectedly… Thankfully our bangs on our patio window have saved a few little sparrows, this winter. But unfortunately in the Summer those inexperienced fledglings were not so lucky .. The Sparrow Hawk now knows where to catch dinner.. and like your writing, no doubt will be back..

    Lovely dramatic piece my friend… Have a peaceful predator free weekend. 💚🧡💛

    1. Sue, you are so lucky to have sparrows in your garden; they are such a rare sight these days and always precious to view. How sad that the Sparrow Hawk took some of the fledgelings. Although one can rationalise that this is the way of the natural kingdom one can’t help but be touched and saddened. Hopefully, the hawk will find new pastures, further away from your garden …but one is warier. Instead of admiring the birds on the feeder I now find myself looking out for birds of prey. This is a piece that wrote itself almost … I had to find some outlet for my emotions! Yep, a predator-free weekend … far fewer dove visitors probably helps!

      A quiet Sunday today as my son went back to university yesterday, the car ladened! As I readjust to the emptier home Christmas will finally be coming down this afternoon! Hope you have a relaxing and peaceful Sunday, my dear friend! love & hugs xx 😀❤️

      1. Thank you dear Annika.. and the Sparrow Hawk came and sat on my fence only yesterday while my son and granddaughter we visiting.. They both thought is beautiful, as do I… But the sparrows thankfully have good thick hiding places within our shrubs.. It sat there too long for me, eying up the feeders, So I went outside clapped my hands and it fly away… I know he has to catch his/her dinner too.. But not on my watch.. 🙂
        I am sure you will miss the energy of your Son’s presence Annika… I enjoyed his last upload to his channel.. 🙂
        Have a peaceful rest of the day my friend.. Much love your way ❤

    1. Jan, I enjoyed writing the descriptive detail in this piece, and hopefully place the reader at the scene! Totally unexpected and out of norm for a bird of prey to strike in such an area … I do feel for ‘our’ white doves! Oh yes, so glad he got scared away!

  10. What a vivid tale, Annika. I’m guessing that this is a true story and happened to you. We have eagles that swoop down and pick off little ducks, but the massacre is usually at a distance. This sounds intense. Great writing!

    1. Diana, thank you so much and to read your comments about my writing from such an author as yourself means a lot! 😀 I was inspired, let’s say, after this shocking sight.

      It must be amazing to see eagles in the wild and as you say, they do attack other smaller birds. I’ve seen this with falcons in Sweden – what really surprised me here is that it dared fly into a smallish enclosed garden, surrounded by trees and fences!

    1. That’s exactly what we’ve been trying to work out! Although it seems unnecessary since the doves have sadly nearly all disappeared … probably sought and found safer feeding grounds!

  11. I know that feeling of horror, Annika… Several years ago we spotted a hawk stealing the last of three robin chicks from its nest in the lilac tree outside our window. That was the last year of robins nesting in that tree… Your story hits home. Well done!

    1. Oh no, Bette… that is so sad and you must have been so distraught and upset. Even though intellectually one knows this is part of nature, it touches one to see the smaller birds killed and then that the robins ceased nesting in your lovely lilac. It does sound like lazy hunting by these birds of prey, who look out for easy pickings.

    1. Robbie, that is so true … but why one of ‘our’ beautiful doves!?😀 It’s like nothing I’ve seen in our garden, usually it’s the neighbourhood cats attacking the smaller birds. So glad you liked the story; that means a lot!

  12. Very powerful writing and bird too! The poor doves were an easy target but raptors have to eat too so don’t feel guilty. My friend moved all her feeders close to the hedge as there had been sparrowhawk attacks. This made it more difficult and the small birds could easily flit to and fro between feeder and hedge. Happy New Year to you and quite an experience to start 2020!

    1. Georgina, you’re right … a memorable start to 2020 for me! I haven’t seen the falcon again and most of the doves seem to have moved on. Alas! Your friend was very wise by moving her feeders closer to the hedge … the few doves that have stayed seem to have become more sensible and stay under the feeders which hang in trees. Before they paraded around on the lawn and were far too easy a target! So glad you liked the power of the writing – I wanted to convey the drama and emotion of the start to my morning.

      Hope you’re having a great start to the New Year! 😀

  13. Mike

    Quite an “in your face” post Annika. Your writing brings home the brutality and naked aggressive side of Mother Nature at close quarters. It’s not so bad when David Attenborough covers it but it is certainly a bit more personal when it happens at close quarters and in your own back garden.

    Hope this was just a story and didn’t actually happen to you. If it did it must have been scary. Not sure if a towel is enough to tackle a raptor with though (unless you are an intergalactic hitch hiker of course!)


    1. Haha! Mike, I’m laughing at your Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy reference … in that case, everything would have been fine, as long as I had my towel with me!😀😀

      Alas, this was based on a true incident in my back garden and the first of two such events. It was rather daunting to open the door and such a sad and unlikely sight.

      Wow! I’m glad you felt the power of my story, its brutality. Yes, it is quite different seeing something like this on TV. I have seen birds of prey attacking other birds in the wild, once taking another down mid-flight. Many thanks for reading and for your interesting comment.

    1. Wow! Jennifer, having seen through your photos where you live and the stunning ocean setting I’m not surprised you have so many birds of prey around you. What a precious sight to see eagles in the wild. It was just such an unusual location for a falcon in an enclosed garden on a small housing estate that really surprised me, and seeing one up so close, over its kill! I just had to write about it!

      1. I can see why you’d want to write about it. One winter we saw a huge snowy owl on our point. It looked like a man with a big white coat on! Then it flew up to sit on the peak of our roof. I kept the cats in for a few days, just in case!

  14. We’ve had this happen in our yard before as well, especially when we had a bird feeder. I know it’s the law of nature and all creatures must survive, but it doesn’t make it any easier to witness.

    Well written, Annika.

    1. Thank you so much, Mae! I felt compelled to write about this … and to convey the feelings of nature reigning supreme, me a mere bystander.

      This was a first for us as cats are the usual predators for the birds and these have successfully been frightened away. A rare sighting of such a bird of prey in the midst of a small housing development. The doves have since left but I wonder where they’ve gone. Do you live in a more rural area, Mae? Would this be a more usual occurrence for you, I wonder? Or maybe we’ve just been lucky.

    1. Neil, how true! 😀 I do feel slightly responsible, since if we didn’t have the feeders than the doves would not have been here … but then the small birds would not have so much to eat during the winter! Catch-22! Mother nature seems to be sorting things out and the doves have moved onto new pastures — as the regular flock of 30+ seems to have disappeared (alas!).

  15. Graphic, especially the first para and the last bit – from crash onward.
    I’ve been after foxes and aggressive cats with similar rage, bombarding them with apples, sticks or water, or banging pot lids together.

    1. Ashen, it was a graphic sight, and so totally unexpected I felt rather shocked. I wanted to convey this sense in the piece of writing. Luckily I didn’t have the horrible job of getting rid of the doves, thankfully my husband took care of that.

      You seem to have been/to be waging your own battle on your land with predators. Are these unwelcome visitors less reluctant to traverse your garden now? I would hope so and over the years successfully scared away an array of cats (no foxes … yet!)

      Here’s to harmony in our havens! 😀

    1. Thank you so much … I enjoyed writing this; probably cathartic! 😀 haha … I was thinking of the dramatic effect with the towels but had no intention to wander too close! Somebody mentioned banging on pots and that’s a good idea! Next time!😀

  16. Oh, what amazing imagery Annika. You brought it very much to life for me, in fact it resonated very close to home. Nature can be extraordinary and sometimes it’s truly hard to watch. Superbly written. xx

    1. Thank you so much, Miriam! 😀 At least this most unexpected morning event inspired me to write and I am so glad I brought the occasion to life! I imagine you see a lot more of this than I as I remember the vast gardens from your photos on your posts. Birds of prey are not a regular feature of suburban gardens … I was in awe yet saddened! xx

  17. Your post is absolurely breathtaking. Raised my pulse quite high as the drama enfolds.
    I am totally taken with this woman rushing out, shouting with arms and towels flying.
    It would take a brave Raptor to have courage to fight this new bird.

    I am sorry that your peaceful white Doves have been attacked and two killed. As you say ,
    birds of prey don’t normally hunt in gardens. Lazy hunter.
    I take it you feed the birds as I do myself. The danger is how to protect them. For me it was
    cats getting in and lying in wait. I have also played the scary part.

    Hope peace now will return to your haven.


    1. Miriam, your comment has me laughing out loud — I’m smitten with the idea of me being the new bird, quite a crazed one at that! 😀 It was a dramatic start to the day from very sleepy to wide awake and alert in a second! It’s not every day a giant bird of prey is in one’s garden!

      You are right, I do have bird feeders out and they are full with an assortment of small birds, below them, the doves, numbering up to thirty, would pick at the fallen seeds. Not surprisingly they seem to have taken fright and no longer visit. haha … I can just imagine you frightening away the cats – I have done this in the past and they rarely dare cross the garden anymore!

      Wishing you a beautiful rest of the week … the sun is out at last and such a boost to one’s spirits! xx 😀❤️

    1. Jill, what is so surprising is that although part of nature, birds like this do not often visit enclosed gardens, they are common along the coast or marshland here in England and I’ve seen them hunting above open fields and such! The unexpected nature of the sight and killing of the dove struck me — we are not unused to cats getting at the birds!

      Oh, we have had up to thirty doves at one time on the lawn (easy pickings for the falcon) and it is a glorious sight. Ahh … how sweet these beautiful and serene birds remind you of your grandmother. Were there many doves near where she lived? I’ve just read a couple of your posts about your Mamaw; full of love and light.xx 😀❤️

      1. Sadly, we have birds of prey stalk our backyard bird feeders…I have to close my eyes. Don’t get me started on the stray cats that our neighbor attracts by feeding them…they go after my birdies, too! 😦 Thanks for reading my Mamaw posts, Annika. I still miss her after all of these years. No, there weren’t really doves where she lived. Years ago, after she’d been gone maybe 10 years or so, I was sitting at my kitchen table really missing her. It was a drizzly day and I was gazing out the window. Minutes later, a dove landed on the window sill. She sat on the ledge looking at me through the glass, just cooing. After ten minutes of watching me, I knew the dove was sent by my Mamaw to check on me. I know, it might sound silly, but I felt Mamaw’s presence in a major way. So now, every time I see a dove, I know it’s Mamaw checking in with me. See you tomorrow! ❤

        1. Bless you, Jill and I’m deeply touched by the special moment between you and the dove as you sat grieving your dear Mamaw. I believe with all my heart that certain animals and signs are there to comfort us, those left behing in life. Your grandmother is looking out for you, and I don’t think it’s silly at all. I something similar when my grandfather passed away and the day after the funeral a beautiful butterfly landed on my son’s hand. And stayed there for over half an hour … as he walked around the land with it, talking to it, showing us all. A visit from our Morfar in this form helped lift the veil of grief just a bit, brought smiles to us. They never really leave us. hugs xx

  18. I liked the sudden flurry of towels. We recently found a dove dead on our deck. It would have been very satisfying to scream at its killer. We presume the death was accidental, that the bird few into the house with enough force to break its neck and fling it back five feet. Poor peaceful doves!

    1. Anne, your poor dove and it does sound as if it flew into the house; not a too infrequent occurrence here as small birds fly into the French doors. Luckily many are just stunned and survive. I’ve never seen anything like this poor dove though. The second one to fall victim and what a shock to see the giant raptor in our garden!

      1. I thought your story sounded like personal experience. I once saw a hawk stretching its talons for a rabbit. The rabbit was smart and ran along a barbed wire fence. The bird gave up and flew away. Escape!!

    1. Thank you, Darlene! It was fun to write, but rightly not a joy to watch … so unexpected to see such a giant bird of prey in our garden! At first struck still in awe and shock!

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