I have heard the expression “the early bird gets the worm” my whole life. If you have ever lived anyplace where lawns are common, you have probably had the experience of seeing earthworms crawling on sidewalks and driveways after a nighttime rainstorm.
Watching American robins hunt for earthworms makes it is easy to see how this expression came about. Earlier this week, I had an encounter with nature that made me think of this saying.
I didn’t see any earthworms, and I didn’t see any robins, but because I was the “early bird” I happened to be in the right place at the right time to witness nature in action.
Memorial Day morning I was up at the crack of dawn and started doing some yardwork in the cool of the day. There is a small seasonal creek that borders our property, and this is where I was working. I was enjoying the peace and quiet of the early morning stillness when suddenly – and loudly – the calm was interrupted by a very agitated Cooper’s hawk.
At first, I didn’t think too much about the vocalizing, as there is a Cooper’s hawk nest downstream from our home and I frequently hear them calling. However, on this particular morning, the vocalizing didn’t stop. In fact, not only did it not stop but it was getting closer to where I was. I could tell the hawk was really upset, but I had no idea what would cause it to be so stressed.
The hawk’s vocalizations continued to draw closer until the hawk flew into our yard and landed in a large ponderosa pine tree at the edge of the creek. At this point, I was face to face with the hawk – but it didn’t seem to mind that I was standing there. I could only wonder why it was so upset.
I didn’t have to wait long to solve the mystery – a large, male bobcat emerged from the vegetation growing along the creek. I stood perfectly still, with my eyes locked on the bobcat as it sauntered slowly up the creek bed. It nonchalantly passed by me, acting as though it never saw me, but I can’t imagine that it didn’t know I was standing right there.
The hawk continued to harass the bobcat, but the bobcat was completely unfazed by all of the fussing over him. Just before the bobcat went out of sight, a pair of ravens joined the hawk in expressing their displeasure at his presence.
Had I not gotten up early that day, had I not been in that exact spot at that exact moment, I would have missed this thrilling experience. It was a great way to start the day – sometimes it pays to be an early bird!
In previous columns, I have written about the importance of being observant – this includes being aware of bird behavior and bird vocalizations. If you are in tune with nature, you can be made aware of things that are happening in your yard.
This is not the first time I have seen a bobcat in my yard because of the incessant vocalization of a bird. Several years ago, the ravens that nest in the ponderosa pine tree in our yard were very upset. While I was conscious of their calling in a manner that indicated they were upset, it didn’t sink in for a while. When my mind finally kicked into gear that I should go and see why they were so upset, I saw the bobcat.
Have an observant week, and Happy Birding!