Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Death of Socrates and the Removal of a Tree with a Nest

Mar. 16, 2006 -

Today was a really hard day for Josh and I. He has been sick with a stomach bug this week and as a result, today was the first time we have been able to take our usual walk to the park.

As is our usual routine, we walked around the park to where Socrates' den is, upon first arriving at the park. We didn't see him but weren't concerned as this is a hit or miss occurrence each time we venture up to the park. Josh asked to walk the wash going our backward route. As he headed up and around a corner he stopped abruptly and cried out. There on the ground was Socrates, face down, dead. Upon closer inspection we saw that a juvenile desert cottontail was also dead underneath one of Socrates' wings that was still spread out. I was amazed at the size of the rabbit he had obviously killed for food. Our best guess is that the rabbit was too heavy for him and somehow after killing it and trying to fly with it he ended up crashing to the ground as we could tell upon turning him over that his beak had been smashed.

Joshua was and still is heartbroken. He knows that death is a part of life and we were blessed to have Socrates as a part of our own lives for the time we did. This bird brought amazing joy into our birding experiences and for that we are forever grateful.

Saddened we continued our walk only to see heavy equipment "maintaining" another part of the wash. These washes are used for runoff during the heavy rains of the monsoon season and are supposed to be kept free of any hindering vegetation etc. Policy that makes sense except for the fact that this is only the second time in 4 years they have actually done it. The killdeer that are in the wash were flying around very agitated as the digging was going on in an area where they have been lately.

We dealt with this same "operation" last year when they removed shrubs and such that had grown up for the past 3 years and had nests in at migration time. Shaking our heads we decided to just walk the path and go home. As we came upon the bridge area where the verdin's nest was in the process of being built, we saw nothing! NO nest, NO tree even. It had been removed! We have no idea why this tree was taken out.

Some hard life lessons, both from nature and from man, have left us with some heavy hearts today. We feel very thankful we at least have had the experiences we did and even have pictures as memories.

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