“Good morning!” I sing cheerfully stepping from the porch onto the snow. I have come to feed them.
Just at that moment a red tailed hawk flies out of one of the pine trees after the birds, wings beating the air. In seeming slow motion it pulls in its wings as it enters the other tree, disappears momentarily into the branches and then emerges with a bright red cardinal in its claws. The white speckled underbelly of the hawk highlights the red feathers, the black eyes, the reddish orange beak of the cardinal in its grasp as it glides in front of me across my path and out over the holding pond.
Its victory cry just moments later pierces through the cold and the shock of what I just witnessed.
I move, scatter the seeds onto the ground, in a daze, conflicted, knowing I am feeding more than the sparrows, cardinals and juncos.
And they wouldn’t have it any other way. Not one of the little birds who must live under this threat would trade their freedom and the risks it involves for the safety of a cage.
Why then should we?