Spring’s back, and so are those cute little bobble-headed hawk chicks — properly called eyasses — and their parents, Bobbie and Rosie Red-Tail, the pride of New York City’s Washington Square Park.
And so is sorrow.
Yesterday, I wondered if the third of three chicks would make it out of his/her shell as promptly as the first two. It did. Little Judson (named for Judson Memorial Church, where its parents mated on the cross) squiggled out into the nest, joining siblings Kiku (whose name honours a late member of the online chatroom) and Archie (for the famed Washington Square Arch). Terminal cuteness all around; virtual champagne and cigars and congrats to the parents from a raft of virtual aunts and uncles. On my wall is posted a birth announcement, provided by a chat member when Kiku hatched last Friday.
Two hours after little Judson poked his way into the world, two bombs exploded on Boylston Street in Boston, disrupting the marathon and claiming three lives, including that of an eight year-old child. In the chat room, the conversation had become agitated, and this was when I realized that something dreadful had happened.
Many of us worried about friends in Boston while we eyed the nestlings. Since the hawks’ turf is in downtown Manhattan, memories of 9/11 began to surface in the online chat. As our fear and dread scrolled by to the right of the screen, the webcam continued to show fluffballs Kiku, Archie and Judson — the oldest only three days old — tussling, squawking and grabbing for food. In innocence, they carried on, the image of solace in the midst of grief and pain — Bobby Hawk bringing fresh rodent meat; Rosie putting the “kids” down for a nap under her enormous cape of feathers. As we tried to unravel the tragedy in Boston, we would pause to look at them, to observe Rosie’s patience and to enjoy those three tiny packages of life.
It’s not surprising that hundreds of people love watching hawks and their nestlings online. These big raptors rescue us from narcissism because they have absolutely nothing to say about the human condition. In the face of our sufferings, they eat, sleep, romp, make love and catch rodents. They invite us to ooh and ahh, to laugh and cry, to receive the gifts that life has to offer. They bring us hope in sorrow. They are nature’s sign of goodness in the world.
Visit Bobby, Rosie and family at http://www.livestream.com/nyu_hawkcam