Have you ever been so focused on something that the rest of the world disappeared? Time evaporated. Your surroundings ceased to exist. Nothing else mattered.
Yesterday, Tom brought a Red-tailed Hawk to the center for release. It had been hit by a car on Sunday and remained under Tom’s fatherly observation and care overnight. In the morning, the vet checked it out and pronounced it ready for release.
The hawk disagreed. It attempted flight a couple of times, but eventually succumbed to re-capture. Tom will keep an eye on it, offer more food, and try again on another day. Or perhaps he will have to find a rehabilitator who will take another hawk.
At Audubon, we often hear of raptors getting injured along the roads. Roadways are pretty good habitat for hawks to hunt. Mowed medians and roadsides provide food and shelter for rodents which make up a high percentage of the Red-tailed’s diet. It’s no wonder that we see so many hawks in trees as we drive. Take a short trip on the New York State Thruway and you will think there’s a hawk convention going on!
Compare the single-minded focus of a bird of prey with the seemingly random behavior of an herbivore… a Canada Goose for example. Of course the two geese who have taken up residence in Audubon’s backyard are nearly domesticated I suppose. Still, they retain some element of their wild relatives. (Neither can fly. One is overwintering a second time, the other is a new arrival – as of fall.) When it comes to food, these two seem to expend little effort. They dive for pond plants, nibble grasses when the snow melts, and clean up spilled seed under the bird feeders. Then they seem to take joy in swimming, diving, splashing… There must be joy in rising on a thermal, too… but it doesn’t seem as playful as splashing.
I suppose metaphors are to be made. No, I’m not implying that vegetarians are more playful than meat-eaters. I was thinking that sometimes my approach to a task is hawk-like, and other times I’m quite the goose. Four hours disappeared in the blink of an eye the other day when I was working on my winter fungus book… and I got a lot done! I never have that kind of focus on… say… house cleaning. It goes more like this: “A magazine belongs in the magazine rack. Wait, I haven’t read this one yet. Oh let’s just take a few minutes to flip through it… or read it cover-to-cover…” An hour is gone in the blink of an eye and not one bit of house cleaning is done. What a goose!
Some people I know are mostly hawks… serious, single-minded. Others are geese, dabbling here, dabbling there. Some can ease between modes seamlessly.
Today, right this moment: are you a hawk or a goose?