Dead Things

For most of the summer, every time we opened our front door to make our way down the treacherous path, we held our breath, crossed our fingers, and did rock paper scissors to see who would be first.

We live on a hill, with a steep sloppy cobbled path, and although many visitors complain and wonder how on earth we go and up and down multiple times a day, especially when bags are involved, that wasn’t the issue. We love that part of it. The problem was the Dead Things. Legs, heads, gutted torsos. Wings, beaks, a carpet of feathers. And depending on how long they’d been there (hours or overnight) all the crawlies that accompany dismembered bodies.

You see, we had a pair of falcons (although one neighbour is not convinced that’s what they are–if you look at the photo and recognize the bird, please, leave a comment and let me know!) move in, and nest. Three hatchlings added to that pair, meant five predatory birds hunting in my ancient oak tree on my front lawn.


My husband took this photo in early spring when they first arrived. The birds screech so loudly, all of the neighbours in the vicinity were opening the doors and scanning the skies to find out what was going on. At first it was fantastical, we’d all stand around dumbfounded with our cameras and binoculars, watching these soaring birds. But then bodies started piling up, two, three a day, and all the wildlife disappeared. Our noisy, busy, neighbourhood was abandoned. And yet, still the bodies piled up. Passer-byers I could only suppose. And once the hatchlings were out and learning to hunt, but were still ever so clumsy in their kills, it was horrifying. I had to go out ahead of the kids, armed with bags and a scooper and Lysol. And I, I admit without shame, and oh so squeamish, I have even a hard time cooking chicken (no red meat in my house). Let’s just say we ate our fair share of fruit and veggies and beans this summer, appreciating the vegans.

And then, just like that, I opened my door and did not find any Dead Things (as my family came to call this debris). And the next day, neither. And then we opened the window and heard the chattering of birds. Not the shrill of the hunters. And we all ran to look outside and cried, “Look! It’s birds!!” After a week, the red cardinals came back. And then the ravens. And the squirrels are back in full force. (have you ever seen a predatory bird go after a squirrel??!!!). Still no finches, or blue jays, or grackles, or robins, or or or. But things are flying around, and calling out to each other. And it feels like summer is here. Too bad it’s actually just ending.

6 thoughts on “Dead Things

  1. Jen, you had a pair of Sharp-Shinned Hawks. They are little birds with a huge appetite for songbirds and a horrendous habit of screeching from about 4:30 in the morning. They are excellent teachers of their young (so spend a lot of time hunting) and often seem to be hunting for sport. I am a fan of wildlife in the city, and of birds of prey in particular, but these are not my favourite critters!

    1. Hey, Karen, not my favourites either!!
      Did you ever see them? For a few days before they finally left us they were circling at Lakeshore. I know my neighbours got a knock in the head by one of them over there! Crazy.
      We were all searching the internet for ways to detter them from around here, but there doesn’t seem to be any reliable method. Here’s hoping they don’t return next year!!

  2. I live in the country, in the woods and have seen hawks catch snakes and fly off with them. And we keep a cat to keep the gophers and mice down. But, they get a bird now and then. One night I went outside without turning the porch light on and stepped on something warm and mushy: a freshly killed gopher. The cat was nearby and mewed up at me as if to say…”did I do good or what. Here this one is yours.”

    1. blechhhh. Oh, Marvin, I wouldn’t of handled that well at all!

      I had a neigbouring cat leave me mice at my doorstep while all this was going on–oddly, he wasn’t leaving them at his house. I guess he felt the need to contribute.

  3. Did you ever see them before? Before Spring, I mean. You’re lucky to have such amazing wildlife at your doorstep, Jen. I still remember that post where you wrote about your daughter sitting with a…bat, was it? LOL. 😀

    1. Don’t feel so lucky, Nisha!! yeah it was a bat. And we all ran screaming from the house until it was removed. my daughter had to undergo a series of rabbies vaccines over a five month period. SHe was a brave three year old!
      Don’t get me wrong, I love nature, but from a distance!!! lol
      oh, and this was a first time sighting for us. My eldest thought they escaped from a nearby wildlife sanctuary where they keep birds of prey among other animals…but no way a pair got out. Have to say, they’re awesome to watch fly and circling.

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