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About these stories…

My stories here are all true—and some contain messages from the animal world that we humans need to know. There is something special about each story, whether it happened in my neighborhood, with a client or during one of my disaster-response deployments.  I hope you find them heartwarming and enriching.

Stories

Frankie the Red-Tailed Hawk

It was early spring, and still chilly in the morning. I was checking my email when, all of a sudden, I heard a screaming noise outside. I didn’t know which way it was coming from, so I went out the closest door and listened to see if the screaming started again. Nothing, not a sound could be heard. So I went inside to get back to work.

After a moment, it started again. I headed for the door again and the noise stopped. This time, however, I decided to stay outside for a while to see if someone was in trouble or needed help. A few minutes passed and the screaming started again. It was right above me. “How could that be?” I thought as I looked up. Then I saw it: a nest in the tree above me. In it was a baby red-tailed hawk looking right down at me.

“Are you okay?” I asked, looking up at the little fellow. He said, “No, I don’t know where my mom and dad are. They’ve been gone for days and the black birds say I’m in their tree and I have to move. I don’t even know how to fly yet. I don’t know what to do. And I’m really hungry.” As I looked up at my new little friend I could see several crows starting to land in the tree, each of them getting closer and closer to the little hawk as if to say, “You need to move. This is our tree.”

I asked the little hawk what his name was—and he said just as quickly as I asked him, “Frankie.” I replied, “Hi Frankie, I’m sorry you’re all alone. You just stay put and let’s see what we can do to get you some food.” I looked at the crows, which were now about three feet from my little friend, and I asked them if they could help him. The crows just looked at me like I was nuts. “Lady, don’t you know we don’t get along with red-tailed hawks?” “No,” I said. “I didn’t know that. But can’t you see this is a baby red-tailed hawk and he’s starving. Something must have happened to his parents or he wouldn’t be alone and you wouldn’t be that close to him.” One of the crows thought for a moment and said, “Yes, I suppose you’re right.” So I continued, “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to have a red-tailed hawk on your side for a change?” Again the crow thought and finally said, “Yes, it probably would be a good idea.”

I kept on persuading the crow,” Do you suppose you could help this little guy and get him some food? Maybe teach him to fly? And take him to the park nearby, where he can make his house. That way, he can stay with the hawks over there and you can have your tree back.” Next, I looked at Frankie and said, “What do you think about that, Frankie? Can these crows help you out until you can fly? Then you can live at the park nearby and stay out of their tree.” Frankie’s response was, “I guess so.” I looked again at the crow, who had been in deep thought since I suggested this idea, and said, “Well, Mr. Crow, what do you think?” He was quiet for a few moments more before he finally said, “Okay. I guess we can help the little hawk out.”

Frankie Gets Food and Flying Lessons

The next thing I saw was the crows taking flight to give my little Frankie some room. They moved about 10 feet from him, and Mr. Crow flew away. I sat watching little Frankie for another five minutes when Mr. Crow came back and landed on the edge of Frankie’s nest—this scared me and I’m not sure it didn’t also scare Frankie too. But the crow had something for Frankie to eat and shoved it down his throat. All I heard Frankie say was, “More please!” Then, I could hear Mr. Crow say as he flew away again that this might be more than he bargained for because this little guy was going to eat a lot.

Over the next couple of days, I found myself out in the back yard checking on Frankie and the crows to make sure each kept their bargain. Frankie would make his bird calls every morning at the same time, and the crows would come to help him out. I also noticed the crows posted a guard to keep an eye on him so he would stay safe. Frankie was in that nest for about three weeks. I don’t know how long it takes for red-tailed hawks to fly, but Frankie sure took his time.

When the crows decided it was time for Frankie to fly, they began his lessons. There must have been 30 crows in the tree taking off and landing, taking off and landing, just so Frankie could see how it was to be done. Finally, Frankie was ready and he stood on the edge of his nest. He flexed his wings so I could see how beautiful they were in the sun. He flexed them a few more times too. Pretty soon we were all wondering if Frankie was going to fly…then, all of a sudden, he flexed his wings, tipped off his nest and took flight.

Frankie just kept giggling and saying, “Wow!” over and over. “Go Frankie,” I said as he flew out of sight. Then I called after the crows, “Make sure he gets to that park where the other hawks can help him. Thank you for all of your help!” I think I was just as excited as Frankie when he started to fly. I realize the crows did all the work, but I felt like a proud parent with my wings held high. I wished Frankie the best and hoped one day I would see him again.

Frankie Returns, A Full-Grown Red-Tailed Hawk

A year and a half later, I heard the piercing noise that red-tailed hawks make. It sounded like it was coming from the same place where I saw Frankie so long ago. I rushed outside and looked up at the tree to see if I could spot the red-tailed hawk that had obviously made that beautiful noise. I didn’t see anything at first. I kept looking in the tree, though, thinking that sometimes they blend in and are difficult to locate. Frankie seemed to appear out of nowhere—and now he was a full-grown red-tailed hawk! He had brought a friend, and they were both beautiful.

“Hello Frankie. It’s so good to see you. I see you have a friend,” I exclaimed. Frankie smiled and introduced me to his shy female, whose name I still don’t know. While she was busying herself with some twigs and pretty-good-sized branches, I was trying to figure out what she was doing. Then it dawned on me. Frankie was about to be a father and he came back to his birthing place to have his offspring! I smiled with delight until I remembered the deal with Mr. Crow. I said, “Frankie, don’t you remember telling Mr. Crow that you wouldn’t come back?” Frankie looked at me and very definitely said, “No, I don’t remember saying that. But I do remember saying, ‘I guess so,’ which is not the same thing. Besides this is my birthing place and that means it’s sacred.”

“Frankie, what will Mr. Crow say about it?” I asked. “Well, he just seemed to understand when I explained it to him—as long as we don’t live here permanently,” he replied. All I could do was smile as tears rolled down my cheeks. I knew Frankie was a great bird, and I also knew he was right. I guess so did Mr. Crow.

A few weeks later, we had another addition to the family! Whenever mom and dad hawk were out getting food for the baby, there was never anything to worry about because Mr. Crow and his friends were always about 10 feet away keeping watch.

Frankie still comes to visit in the spring. He sits in his tree and makes that piercing noise, telling me to come out and chat. He and his family have found a place in the park for their permanent home, but I’m glad he still comes to visit me. The last time I saw Frankie, he was perched on a 4×4 post that extends out from my garage into the herb garden. He was about 10 feet from me. He spread his beautiful wings out and back twice, then looked at me and flew off. What a great gift it is to see him so close!

Copyright 2016 Terri Steuben • Site credits