As an atheist, I have little practical use for Easter. Same goes for my Buddhist wife. For us, Easter is just an excuse to bake a big-ass ham and some scalloped potatoes. That was the plan. I had selected a nice bottle of Cabernet* to open, but, aside from the menu du jour, it was a standard Sunday at McBone Outpost #1211.
Part of the Sunday routine is taking a walk in the woods after breakfast. The weather was perfect today--75 degrees and sunny. I grabbed the binoculars and we were out the door. With luck, the birding would be good.
It wasn't. Until the last leg of our 45 minute ramble, we hadn't spotted jack shit. We had almost reached the street when, suddenly, a blood curdling squawk snapped our heads to a tall tree. A tangle of gray and brown feathers, beaks and razor sharp talons had me reaching for the binoculars. Perched high, two birds screwed as if their lives depended on it. The squawk, it turns out, was in fact a primal cry of supreme pleasure. Coitus had been achieved. The birds separated and at last I was able to identify them. Merlins. Awesome.
For those of you unacquanted with the bird, a merlin is a small falcon. While I would not say it's uncommon to see one, seeing two in one tree is fairly unusual. I'm no expert, but I have to think that this kind bawdy display is a rare treat indeed. Already the single coolest birdwatching experience of my life, it turns out things were just getting started.
With bodily fluids satisfactorily exchanged, Mr. and Mrs. Merlin retreated to their own branches. The male, stoic and gray, looked out upon the wooded expanse. The female proceeded to groom herself. At least I thought she was grooming herself. A closer inspection revealed a furry mass in the clutches of her left foot. With ravenous hunger she tore the flesh from the carcass of a small rodent. Apparently, all that avian amor works up a mighty hunger; she did not seem one bit inclined to share. All told, it was the greatest display of carnality I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
An Easter miracle? I prefer to think of it as nature at its best.
*The 2005 Franciscan is killer!