Street Hawks

February 3, 2009

We’ve spoken in depth about our morning route to get coffee. Usually it’s a rather uneventful excursion: Street kids acting hard, homeless men gathering up their sleeping bags and enjoying a smoke, cops tootling around on those laughably useless Segways. But yesterday we got a Mutual of Omaha’s "Wild Kingdom"-level interface with nature.

I have been a bird geek all my life. Whether it was pretending that I was a superhero with a bald eagle’s head and a human body when I was seven, or being the only under-65 member of the Audubon Society when I was nine, I’ve always had a thing for bird watching. So I was stoked to find out that there is a family of hawks that make their home on top of the Benson across from the office. I’d seen them before perched high on the skyline, but they were usually far too far away for me to get a good gander.

That changed Monday. My friend (and resident PM Grizzly Adams) Brian Barker and I were walking back from Half & Half when this giant wad of feathers dropped from the sky like Liberace’s bowling ball. There, in one of those mid-block mini-terrariums so popular in Portland, the hawk had found a potential breakfast. It was a rat. And good riddance, right? But we were shocked by how close this whole circle of life showdown was taking place to us. We were no more than twenty feet away as hawk and rat struggled for a few brief seconds…feathers and claws and talons and tails going in every direction.

And then it was over. The rat emerged from the fray and scurried under a car, still alive for the moment. For his part, the hawk retreated to his place atop a utility pole to wait for another shot at his meal.

…Now back to "Wild Kingdom" where Marlin Perkins is wrestling a boa constrictor in Pioneer Square.

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