My Mom and Her Pet Hawk


Today is my Mom’s birthday. I’ve written here before about her penchant for helping animals. Today I’m going to tell you another one of those stories.

This past December I was visiting my folks around Christmas time. Mom and I are out on the back deck talking. They have a few dozen feet worth of forest on their property behind the house. As we’re talking we hear an ungodly loud squawk up above us. I look up, alarmed.

Mom, nonplussed, says, “Oh that’s just my pet hawk.”

What was meant to reassure me made me double my alarm levels. I had to investigate this claim further. “Pet” hawk? Had Dad gotten her some sort of hawk-handling training I was unaware of? I’m all about her taking up new hobbies, but handling predatory animals isn’t one I’d expect. At least work your way up with a smaller bird.

Of course she wasn’t speaking literally. What he meant was that the hawk just kind of comes around, so it’s an informal pet. Which at first was a relief, but then I thought about. Mom’s so nice to animals she’s been known to feed a stray cat before. This is a SLIGHTLY different situation. You can’t put out a saucer of milk and can of tuna for a hawk. Part of me expected to see her walk out with a flayed dead rabbit. “Excuse me everybody, it’s lunch time for Stan. Stan’s the massive bird of prey I’ve been feeding.”

Plus if you feed the hawk, he’s going to come back. And his appetite may grow. Next thing he’ll be swooping over the back deck trying to pick me up. He’ll even talk himself into it: “Allright, this is no salmon or field mouse but I think I can take this guy. I’ve been working out, hitting the hawk gym. I’ll just cue up the Drowning Pool on my playlist and psych myself into this. Plus if I can lift this guy there’ll be enough for leftovers. Allright, let’s do it….LET THE HAWK BODIES HIT THE FLOOR…”

Like I’ve said before, I’ve never met anyone who’s as kind to animals as my Mom. 99% of the time, it’s a very endearing quality and an absolute testament to the wonderful, caring person who raised me and my brothers and sister. But throw a hawk into that mix? This is the 1% of the time when her being nice to animals scares the shit out of me.

Also, what if she does win over the bird? Like she figures out how to control it, and decides to move up to an even more dangerous type of predator? One day I’ll be complaining about some heckler and she’ll say, “Do you know where he lives? I can send Larry over to deal with it,” then a mountain lion presumably named Larry enters from the family room. “MOM, no! I’m okay! I don’t want your panther mauling another heckler! Though if he’s got his heart set on doing it, the show was on the Lower East Side so she can start tracking the heckler from there.”

So happy birthday, Mom. And if you decide to let the hawk move in, at least warn me so I can bring it some dead mice or something next time I visit.


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