Birds battle in my backyard. Sparrows wage war over the birdbath, the feeder, and a convenient perch that gives them access to both. Their best vantage point is at the bend of the downspout between the rooftop and a tall spruce. It often becomes contentious because there is room for only one sparrow to reign supreme.
As I watch, a bold bird bullies a timid one. The loser is knocked to the ground, while the victor celebrates his dominance with puffed-up feathers and a cocky stance.
Mother Nature rewards the strong. But sometimes luck evens the score.
A streak of buff and black strikes like lightning from the grey-blue sky. Deadly, silent, and with unerring precision, a prairie falcon plummets. It snatches the winning sparrow from its throne and carries it away.
Huddled below, the loser is the lucky one.
—By Hermine Robinson of Calgary, Alberta.