“Birds” by Steve O’Connor

Local author and sometimes blog contributor Steve O’Connor makes note of the evolution of critters in the neighborhood:

As I drank my coffee on the deck this morning, I could hear the hawks calling to each other high in the pine trees near, appropriately enough, Pine Street. I don’t recall seeing hawks around the Highlands when I was a kid, and unlike today’s kids, we were always outside. Now the hawks are always circling the pine tops and gliding off to hunt. It seems their hunting has been going well, because it struck me that I’m seeing fewer squirrels, and that the pigeons have vanished. Pigeons used to be everywhere in the Highlands, and I recall watching them as a kid in the Acre, too, and marching all over the sidewalks of downtown. Where have all the pigeons gone? Have they vanished like the crowds of kids who were always playing touch football and “relievio” in the streets?

6 Responses to “Birds” by Steve O’Connor

  1. DickH says:

    I concur with your observation about the hawks. They are our frequent companions. Several years ago a neighbor walked over as I arrived home from work and said she had watched a hawk swoop down and devour a squirrel in our front yard earlier that day. That night I cut the grass and searched for remains: a random bone, a tuft of gray fur, anything. But there was nothing and I began to doubt the neighbor’s powers of observation. Two days later that same neighbor returned with a just-developed Wild Kingdom-ish photo of the hawk atop the unfortunate squirrel right in the center of our front yard. The hawk had consumed everything and left not a trace.

  2. John Quealey says:

    I see people in the cemetary looking for hawks in the morning. I see them hunting, and I also see two baby hawks peeking out from their nest.

  3. Steve says:

    I just found a scattering of gray feathers in our yard yesterday. If the pigeons are gone I don’t know what they’re after. They apparently are not familiar with another bird–a Finch named Atticus, because I’m afraid they may even want to kill mockingbird.

  4. JayM says:

    I hypothesize that the hawk population is directly related to the UMass Lowell hockey standings.

  5. Daniel Patrick Murphy says:


    I overheard a common pigeon talking with a mockingbird
    as a squirrel was digging at a lily root. A yellow finch,
    lounging on a red flower, was not disturbed;
    And then they came…


    We should have seen them
    Coming in soundless waves,
    Hawks in trundled air,
    Surges more furious than their eyes,
    Beaks overflowing with famine,
    Nostrils flaring, talons churning
    Aroused lunge, a blaze of shadow
    Streaming, hearts hammering,
    Chests pounding, earth’s tremor.
    We should have seen cruel
    Lightning flash—a sly neck
    Plunging, a grin glistening,
    Slaughter in its teeth.

    –Daniel Patrick Murphy

  6. John Quealey says:

    This morning at 6:30 I saw a Mother Hawk and baby hunting close to the ground, and when we approached they flew off