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The Buzzard


Maja Kluvers

The hot summer two years ago had expanded the number of birds in our yard pretty well. Despite the draught many young blackbirds were born. The water containers I place are attracting many birds of course. You could tell not all offspring was healthy though. One coughed all the time, another was lame, again another had a lump on his neck. A few others also had shortcomings like the ones I just mentioned. I wondered how these birds were going to get through the winter.

As always the fodder container with birdseed and other good stuff is up and ready in winter. The slogan: ‘Help the animals get through winter’ is very well known in The Netherlands.

It is, by the way, very nice to see our feathered friends picking up their meal.

Suddenly winter is over with and spring is coming. None of the birds seems to start looking for their own territory, although there is no room for so many blackbirds.

What is going to happen?

When I hear the magpies rant terribly one morning, my eye is drawn toward an enormous bird, a buzzard, who is sitting on the fence quite near the window, foraging. She/He is enjoying the meal thoroughly and when the bird has gone, I go and look at the remains. They turn out to be the bones of a pretty large bird and I think it must have been a blackbird.

It happens more often. Regularly the buzzard returns and I see him fly over with a quarry in his claws and hope there will be some left.

When the leaves grow on the trees it apparently gets too hard for the buzzard to catch anything. Or is the number of birds in the yard brought back to a harmonious number? Is his task over with? There are two pairs of blackbirds left who look healthy and strong. They will bring forth healthy offspring for sure and for certain. What we humans often see as sad, is actually a natural selection. The weaker birds are taken away.

The wood doves in the yard that are brooding time and again during other years are utterly confused. Every time the pair has finished the nest, a second male comes and sort of snatches away the female from the other male. Every time I think they are starting to brood something goes wrong. Fighting and bickering amongst these large birds. They even make so much noise a cat is coming to take a peek, climbs the tree and sniffs at the nest.

Again as a human you feel the urge to help nature a little. I decide to put a piece of wire gauze around the stem of the tree so the cats can no longer climb it and the birds are safe. The bickering does not stop though and sometimes keeps us awake. It goes on till late in the evening and starts early in the morning. Could they, like many humans, be confused by the changing energies on the earth?

Despite the visit by the cat, the doves continue finishing the nest. The visit by the cat was a hint and thus a lesson for the birds that the tree is not safe anymore and it would be better to find another spot. Have I, by putting up the gauze, taken away the opportunity to learn? Come autumn I see a bird on the nest and a feeling of peace comes over me.

But nothing is as it seems!

When I am mowing the lawn one day, I see a bunch of feathers under the tree as proof of a drama. How was this possible? The cats couldn’t reach them?
A few days later the warning scream of the magpies answers these questions. When I look outside a buzzard is sitting there, very at ease, munching on a dove. This one probably ate the other birds as well. The roof of leaves of the tree had been thinned so, that the doves were easy preys.

After a summer of bickering and unrest finally a peaceful time has begun in the yard. Nature itself has taken care of the restoring of harmony and has shown we humans do not have to interfere by putting gauze around a tree. Once again a lesson has been learned.