Yesterday I witnessed a remarkable event. A Cooper’s Hawk landed in a wooded area outside our unit. It sat in a tree a hundred feet away for a while, watching a young squirrel at play on the ground below our balcony.
After a time the hawk flew closer. Now it perched near the top of one tree while the squirrel, suddenly aware of its danger, froze against the trunk of the tree beside it. We could see the squirrel but the hawk couldn’t.
I stood for a long time watching the hawk turning its head this way and that, trying to locate its prey and the squirrel, hugging the trunk on the far side, not moving a hair.
Eventually the hawk flew to a high limb to get a better view. It knew where the squirrel must be but still couldn’t find it.
The squirrel began to move slowly down the trunk. It reached the ground, edged over to the next trunk, and climbed up that trunk until it was nearly at the same level as the predator. It crept around the side until it was clearly in view of the hawk. Long minutes passed as the hunter and the hunted stared at each other.
The hawk rocked on its limb, weighing its chances. The squirrel flashed its tail as though daring, taunting its adversary.
I stood spellbound while the drama played out. The hawk and squirrel continued their staring match, the bird tensing its muscles, the squirrel cocking its head. It seemed inevitable that the hawk would spread its wings, attack the squirrel, and carry it off to a comfortable place to dine.
The hawk did spread its wings. It flew. The squirrel sat among a cluster of leaves and watched the hungry bird leave the arena. The danger passed. The squirrel sat quietly for another few minutes, then resumed its activity as though nothing had happened.