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Being Noble

Earlier this morning, I chased off a sharp-shinned hawk from my backyard. Just clapped my hands and told it, “Be on your way!”

I feed birds and, well, everything, actually—the deer and raccoon and fox. I tell people who take issue with this, “If you come to my house, I’ll feed you too.”

Sharp-shinned Hawk | Audubon Field Guide

I came to the island with birds. This is my white trash admission for the day:

I drove an RV 2,000 miles from Phoenix to Friday Harbor with a several birds—one mockingbird, some pigeons and doves, a dog, a yowling cat (and her cat box), a rabbit with bad teeth, and a fish. The fish didn’t make it. It died within a day of reaching our destination. Oh, yes. My sister came too but she drove my car behind the RV for me. She then flew back to Phoenix after the most ridiculous trip we will ever make in our collective lives. It was like the Beverly Hillbillies but without the oil wealth and all the livestock.

Anyway, hawks are a common sight here in the PacNW.

I’ve been a bird feeder since Phoenix. We had a budget for seeds, of course but also live mealworms for the mockingbirds and flickers. Any other birds that eat bugs.

But sharp-shinned hawks (SSH) dine on birds and small rodents. They like to hunt during the day so they usually go after birds since most rodents are nocturnal. Although I’ve seen a few unwitting voles attacked by my cats and they have all since been sentenced to life inside the zoo.

So, anywho, people with knowledge on the subject of bird feeding and hawk attacks say to mix up feeding spots or stop feeding birds all together for a few days to get the hawks to leave. I do sometimes. But I don’t always know when the SSH show up. They don’t clock in with me.

Once upon a time, I witnessed an SSH go after a crow and I know they go after ring-necked doves and pigeons. I had an SSH go after a pigeon of mine, one I thought was safe because he was near me. It happened so fast. The SSH came down and in one move, jumped onto the bird and sliced his neck open. I was so sad. I held my bird until my pigeon bled out, about sixty seconds, if that. I just know it was horrifying and there was nothing I could do. Not even with my bird-rehabber knowledge.

Since I moved here, people know me as a rescuer—of birds, cats, you name it. I get calls on and off asking, “Would you like another kitten?” Omgee. No. Please.

After reducing the count from fifteen to three, life feels more normal. But is life ever normal? Nope. Huh uh.

Well, that’s how we got Noble. One of my dearest friends, Michelle, who people know as Michelle the Vet, called one day.

“Hey Susan,” she says. [Insert a Texas drawl to get the flavor of her cute voice]

“Michelle! How are you?”

“Oh, I’m good. But, you know. Well, you know, I help out at the rehab center, right?” The wildlife rehab center.


“Well, honey, I just fixed the sweetest little pigeon’s wing but he’s never going to be able to fly. He was hit by a car in Anacortes and if we don’t get him into a home, we’ll have to put him down.”

Gulp. Here comes the ask. I can feel it through the phone. I can’t refuse her and she knows this very well. If I “accidentally” lose the connection, she’ll know. She’s not a stupid woman.

She goes on, “And I knooow you have those amazing aviaries.”

You know when people start to butter you up, you’re in trouble. The ask is just around the corner.

“Yes, I do. And…” I say, with so much suspicion that I can’t cover it up.

“Well,” Did she just giggle? I think she just giggled. “Would you consider taking this little, precious boy on?”

Boom! There it is.

Most people aren’t as talented at the ask as Michelle who could ask you to peel off your own fingernails in a way that you will say, “Of course. Anything for you.”

I heave an audible breath out. “Yes, Michelle. I will.” Defeat in each word.

She’s giddy. “Oh thank you! You will love him. He’s the sweeeeetest little guy. And I’d keep him if I had a place but I don’t and know you do.”

Yes. Of course. Plus, she’s a friend from church too. Can you imagine life at church after if I told her no? The looks. The disdain. The shunning.

Not really.

Basically, I’m a sucker but mostly for her drawl. Plus, she’s smart too being a veterinarian and all. Vets are my heroes.

When she brought him, one of his wings hung below the other. It didn’t tuck in the way it should have. Wing and shoulder injuries are like that, if you can’t set the bones just perfectly, the bird will not be able to fly perfectly, if ever again.

She says, “What will you name him?”

“Hmm, I don’t know yet. We’ve only just met. What would you name him?”

And with all the love in her face shining through, she says, “I’d call him Noble.”

And so it was.

So, here’s Noble. My pidgie boy. I love him. He’s been with me now for at least ten years. Maybe more. Isn’t he beautiful? Look at those sweet eyes.

See the poop on the ledge? There will be poop.

The island, these last two winters have been bitter cold to the point I brought my three outside birds inside. Into my writing studio during the coldest time.

I enjoyed them inside so much that I wanted to bring Noble in full time. This year I made that happen. He’s all alone in one aviary and the two doves are mated together in the other. I felt sorry for Noble because, although they all have heaters, doves and pigeons tend to huddle when it’s cold. Now, Noble doesn’t have to huddle. He’s living inside with me and Joey in the writing studio.

Ask me if it’s messy in here. Go ahead……..

Yes. Seeds and poop. Whatdayado? Ho hum.

But my boy is with me and he’s the cutest thing. I never knew this before but when he sleeps he makes this sort of snoring sound, this who-who-who sort of sound. It’s adorable.

I said in my heart, “Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.” For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth? ~Ecclesiastes 3:18-21

Thanks for reading. God bless you all.

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Jo szcz
Jo szcz
10 thg 6

You make me ashamed ... sort of ... here I am trying to get rid of all the pigeons pooping on my patio and patio doors ... but at least I'm not killing them! I just plugged up all the holes in the eaves so they'd not be able to roost in my attic and go to the trees nearby instead! Noble's lucky to have you! Love you Cuz! 😍

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