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Closer to Nature During Unpredictable Times

~ Nora Moore Lloyd

Although I didn’t grow up on

reservation, my childhood was

spent learning about and

appreciating the interconnectivity

we have with other creatures.

Big birds and raptors held a

particular fascination for me then that

is underscored on every trip north to

Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) when walking

in the forest and eagles magically

appear or do a low fly-over. And back in Chicago a family of Cooper’s hawks chose my urban backyard to nest.

One of the rare positive outcomes of the troubling past two years has been a new awareness of the value of human/non-human interaction; definitely not a newsflash to Native people but nonetheless a good thing to encourage a broader perspective within the general population. Chicago experienced a huge increase in people starting to watch birds – trading desks and monitors for more comfortable shoes and binoculars and buying books on birds. Personally, I’ve been creating calm for myself by playing piano for no one else to hear, working on photography , painting or rescuing injured birds. Several years ago, I joined Chicago Bird Collision Monitors to volunteer on bird rescues. Urban environments with high rises, glass windows everywhere, bright ambient light and constant traffic present enormous risk to birds especially during spring & fall migration so a team of dedicated volunteers rescues the injured and transports them to a wildlife rehab center. More than a decade ago, an LCO elder advised that I should recognize all the hawks visiting me as a gift. It is said that hawks carry messages from the Creator or someone on the other side. It was, therefore, a natural that I would become the “hawk lady” for our group. Most of the calls for rescue of hawks, owls and falcons come to me. As a photographer, seeing an eagle, hawk or falcon in flight and trying to capture their magnificence was always an exciting challenge. Surpassed only by holding close a rescued hawk/falcon/owl during rescue and transferring them to a carrier – twenty seconds of intimacy that is indescribable.

Volunteering as a bird rescuer covers a wide range of emotions. From witnessing the joyful moment a fledgling falcon is reunited with its parents to providing hospice to a severely injured creature and guaranteeing a soft ending. Every day presents new challenges which requires focusing on each unique rescue – keeping my attention away from ongoing negative news. A great highlight was driving 100 miles to rescue a juvenile bald eagle after a car hit. It was too late to get to rehab so I provided him a warm, dark, safe place to spend the night. What a joy to begin the next day by greeting an eagle. Experiencing all of that gave me a new appreciation for their vibrance in life and the startling elegance in their quiet for not all of our rescues survive. I am honored to have shared space and time with hundreds of our winged relatives – an extraordinary closeness that enriches my life and keeps thoughts of ancestors nearby.



All photos courtesy of the author.