autumn, birds, Black Swamp Raptor Rehabilitation Center, broad-winged hawk, fall, hawk, Kristina Wojtaszek, moving, nature, new house, Ohio, old house, OPAL, prairie falcon, raptors, wildlife, World Weaver Press, Writing, Wyoming
I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from writing while the family and I finish up a big move, transitioning our lives from Wyoming to Ohio. We are finally settling in to a unique little 1930’s home in a pretty, wooded setting. Despite enormous spiders hiding all around the house (and in my shoes!) and finicky electrical outlets, I am utterly infatuated with our new house. It’s the kind of home that’s more character than setting, with tiny doors that lead to secret laundry shoots and hardwood floors that bear the scars of several generations. There’s a pretty little dutch door to keep muddy children at bay while giving the sunlight free entry, a drawer in the kitchen that holds an old tin bread box, and the wink of old glass door knobs throughout the house. Best of all, we now have a beautiful, red-brick fireplace. Having grown up in an apartment, my mom always reassuring me that Santa was magic enough to fit through a keyhole when there wasn’t a chimney, it’s hard to believe we have an authentic fireplace to hang our stockings from, come Christmas.
As the house reveals her age and finery, so too are we getting visits from her closest neighbors; the fattest green caterpillars I’ve ever seen, toads that cry out when my sons catch them, the deer that haunt our untamed garden and, above of all, the birds. I’ve yet to set out any suet or seed (I’ve only just gotten our own kitchen in functioning order) but they’ve come calling aplenty. Today, as my four year old and I poked around in the empty loft that is soon to become his play area and my writing space, we caught sight of a regal raptor out the little window, perched high on a dead branch. He seemed out of place sitting there in a backdrop of greenery, with his dark malar stripes, stark white brows and the checkered brown and white vest of a prairie falcon. But that is a western bird, and we aren’t in Wyoming anymore. Sure enough, I looked up their range and though some claim to have seen them in a nearby Ohio town, they aren’t meant to be this far east, not even along a migration route. I couldn’t find another raptor that fit the dress until I stumbled across the plumage of a juvenile broad-winged hawk.
The entry about them on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website starts out with this stunning description: “One of the greatest spectacles of migration is a swirling flock of Broad-winged Hawks on their way to South America. Also known as “kettles,” flocks can contain thousands of circling birds that evoke a vast cauldron being stirred with an invisible spoon.” Hello, Mr. Hawk, bringer of Fall. Hello Ohio woods where wildlife abounds and magic brews. I’m beginning to feel quite at home here, and I think I’ll be writing again soon.
If you’d like to contribute in a small way to the raptors of Ohio, pick up a copy of my novella, Opal, between now and October 1st, and all proceeds will go to the Black Swamp Raptor Rehabilitation Center, where injured birds are cared for and shown to the public in educational presentations. Thank you!