A Cooper’s Hawk at Sunset

The sun hovered just above the horizon, ready to go down, a huge red shimmering ball; the sky was pale blue and empty, except for a high, bright gibbous moon in the east. I was on my way home, walking fast, fingers numb from cold, when I saw a flash of wings and the long tail of a Cooper’s Hawk as it flew to the middle of a bare-limbed oak and perched there. All I could see as I walked toward it was a tangle of branches and a silhouette from behind, but as I got closer, it flew and passed straight in front of me at eye level, leaving a very brief but vivid image – almost as if it hung in the air and reflected the colors of the sunset – of blue-gray back and wings, glowing red breast, flashing eye, and long banded tail of dark and lighter gray, with a wide band of white rounding the end. It flew directly into the dark green depths of a large magnolia, where it remained, well hidden, even though I lingered until after the sun had gone down, and turned around several times to look back when I finally walked on up the street.

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