Sunday, April 23, 2006

Earth Day Emissaries

We went out to celebrate earth day Saturday, and a beautiful day on earth it was. Not a cloud in the sky and wonderful spring-warm temperatures. We planned a trip over to the Wild Birds Unlimited store where some festivities were planned. There was a whole list of interesting participants plus live music and live raptors from the Northwest Raptor Center.

When we arrived we were immediately greeted by four birds--each tethered to a human who strolled a bit around a lovely courtyard.
There was a Red-tailed Hawk,
a Swainson's hawk,
a Barred owl
and a Great-Horned owl.
It was both thrilling and heart-breaking to get this close to these birds. They are as beautiful as you dream they will be. But after the first thrilling look at their eyes and talons, wings and feathers, we stepped back and took a wider view.
We see that the Red-tailed Hawk has a gun-shot damaged wing. It will never fly again.
We see that the Barred owl is missing an eye. It has been in the shelter for two years.
The Great-Horned owl is also missing an eye. It too has a ravaged wing, and will never fly.
Only the Swainson's is a fully healthy hawk. But, it has imprinted on humans after it was taken from its nest when it was a baby and can never be free.

For us their beauty is absolutely not diminished, only their ability to be free and autonomous is. It is both incredibly wondrous and deeply sad to see them. We feel gratitude and sympathy. They are the broken emissaries from the raptor world.
So, after we left the store we headed out for a walk along the coast. There we watched a juvenile bald eagle soar effortlessly over us. Wings intact. Untethered to humans. Free.

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