I’m somewhat embarrassed to share this…
I suffer from ornithophobia.
Anyone who knows me very well is aware of my fear of birds. Some of those close to me find my phobia hilarious and have enjoyed teasing me on a number of occasions. A relative once sent me a photo of a raven, and I almost lost it. The scariest.
My mother’s Aunt Aglaia had a cute parakeet she called “Pretty Baby.” The bird brought her happiness and companionship in her elder years.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard a plaintive cry coming from high above the sky. It seemed to go on and on for about 30 minutes. I went outside and observed what appeared to be an eagle (oh, my!) circling my neighborhood. Its wingspan looked enormous even from that great distance.
Was the bird in distress? Was it a mating call? Who knows, but I shivered at the idea of a big bird of prey hanging out in my neck of the woods. And the raptor’s loud call has been ongoing for two weeks now. Maybe its habitat is down by the Merrimack River. The Hudson Bridge is less than 2 miles from my home.
I went online to YouTube and came to the conclusion that the bird I saw was most likely a hawk. From what I learned and heard, as majestic as an eagle is, its call is rather weak and unimpressive. A red-tailed hawk, however, sounds loud, raspy and frightening (at least to me).
Scott, the YouTube content creator of the channel Bird Watching HQ, said this: “Red-tailed hawk sounds are typically heard while soaring in the sky. They are most vocal and loudest when angry (who’s not?), such as when a rival hawk or potential threat has entered their territory!”
Large hawks such as these are common in North America and as year-round residents in Southern New Hampshire.
When it comes to the eagle, New Hampshire keeps a close watch on this once-endangered species. The bald eagle has made a dramatic comeback over the years. During the last count in 2020, 101 bald eagles were recorded statewide, and that’s a healthy number, experts say.
Meanwhile, maybe a few of you will remember this story. The incident occurred at Hampton Beach, where I spent many a happy childhood summer. The year was 2001 in late August. An unwanted visitor had found its way among the “human” crowds enjoying the sun and surf. The bald eagle was identified as a bird that had been released from a wildlife reserve in North Carolina, the newspaper article reported.
Unfortunately, some bemused beachgoers began feeding the eagle, and that only encouraged the large bird to keep returning to the beach. Then, the raptor became annoying to those trying to tan, relax, swim, etc.
The eagle was fascinated with football and swooping onto the balls as people tossed them around. At one point, the eagle clawed Kayla Finn, 3, who had been playing football on the sand with two other kids. Her father immediately sprang into action, trying to shoo the large bird away, which he said was trying to grab hold of his little daughter.
The young bald eagle with the 6-foot wingspan was finally caught by an animal control officer in nearby Salisbury, Massachusetts, and taken to the local Coastal Animal Clinic.
And yet last week, I had a magical moment when a hummingbird briefly paused by my windowbox geraniums. Before I could snap a photo, the tiny flier was gone.