From a Reader: The Wilds of Suburbia

A Cooper's hawk in Sabino Canyon near Tucson. | Brianna Clements

EDITOR'S NOTE: A piece on Cooper's hawks in our October issue brought back memories for Arizona Highways reader Chris Angle, who shared this account of a childhood encounter with one of the birds.

The Wilds of Suburbia
By Chris Angle

“Chris, one of our hawks is caught in Eric’s hockey net.”  My best buddy, 12-year-old Seth, burst through my front door, breathless, churning his arms — typical body language when he was happy, excited or nervous. It was common for the hawks to shoot through the airspace, whooshing above our yards, so when I heard Seth, I wasn’t surprised that something like this had befallen the bird.

The Cooper, passing through Eric’s backyard, had zoomed directly into a hockey net casually slung between two trees. In a panic to escape, it had further entangled itself and was now hanging upside down, screeching, its eyes wide with fright, its head feathers standing at attention in fight-or-flight mode. The hawk’s behavior swung from fiercely fighting to free itself, its one free claw viciously swiping out randomly, scratching hopelessly at the net, to sagging with exhaustion, panting and hissing in distress.

The neighborhood kids, buzzing with excitement, had all gathered in the yard. White-faced and unnaturally still, they were memorizing every detail for the dinner table that night. There was nothing we could do. Troy, Seth’s dad, called the Animal Protection Services team, who quickly arrived, the rumble of their rescue truck announcing itself at the top of our street. They calmly covered the hawk’s head, shushing it, and then cut it free. Troy and the kids sprinted down the street, tracking the hawk as it flew away, skirting the tops of the trees so close we could hear the rustle of the leaves as it raced toward Little Dry Creek, another nearby popular hawk site.

As the summer spent itself, everywhere we went, we would endlessly retell the story of our hawk’s near-death experience and our role in saving it — a life-affirming story not just for the hawk … but for us as well.

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Comments

The story of the young boys and the Cooper's Hawk caught in their hockey net vibrates with excitement and intimate understanding of both the hawk and the boys. The details woven tightly into the author's prose made the setting and the action come alive. Thanks for publishing this touching account.

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