Listen, world. Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom was one of my favorite shows when I was young, but I never suspected I would actually have to live it. I want out.
As I was putting the large poultries up for the night, I heard repeated "flushing" in the quail pen. I marched over to find out what was the matter and discovered that a small hawk had found its way into the pen, but couldn't find its way back out again. Somewhat ironically, it kept bouncing off the inside of the anti-bird-of-prey netting.
I tried stretching the netting up to let the hawk out, but of course it wanted nothing to do with me. So instead I had to go inside, leave the door open, and try to chase the hawk out. This was much more difficult than it sounds. Fortunately the quail were trying their hardest to be invisible, so they didn't all rush out the door. But instead of flying away, the hawk kept crouching down, wings spread, and trying to attack my feet. It watched me, well, like a hawk (to steal a joke from the late Douglas Adams). It did not want to go anywhere that I wanted it to go.
Eventually I got my way, locked the pen door, and disposed of the one quail that the hawk had been in the middle of eating. Gah. Poor little quail.
And now I must address the question that has been plaguing Stew since she began reading this entry: What kind of hawk was it? Surely I can answer the question, having looked at it at extremely close range for more than five minutes?
No. Not at all. Why? Because it was an immature hawk, and ALL IMMATURE HAWKS LOOK ABSOLUTELY FREAKING IDENTICAL. They have brown backs and buff chests with brown speckles and stripes. They are the size of an especially muscular raven. So I'm frustrated and sorry, dear Stew. All we have to go on is the fact that it was eating a small bird, which maybe/probably/possibly puts it in the accipiter family.
I am hoping that the hawk had a negative enough experience that it will avoid our quail pen in the future. But we'll have to take a good look at that netting in the morning.