The hot, humid weather has been so inhospitable this summer that we've rarely eaten a meal in our gazebo all season. But the oppressive heat index didn't stop a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) from enjoying a tasty mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) and after-brunch siesta during a four-hour stay on our deck rail today.
The hawk slowly made his way through the mourning dove, appearing to not distinguish between the meat and feathers.
All the while, it kept a watchful and wary eye on its surroundings, alert to even the slightest movements of butterflies in the garden.
After its meal, it rested along the deck rail.
When I returned home from work and heard about this beautiful visitor to our garden, I rushed outside to photograph any evidence of the hawk's meal. All that was left of the mourning dove were a few feathers caught in a spider web attached to the deck rail.
If you ask a gardener why we till the soil, most of us will talk about the plants first. But one of the magical benefits of living with a natural landscape is the wildlife that it brings up close and personal to our lives.
(Thanks to my wife, who captured the photos and video.)