By Casey Tighe
A family of hawks recently took up residence in a cottonwood tree in my brother-in-law’s back yard. His family was excited to see the majestic birds fly in and out of the yard each day to sit proudly on the tree branches and occasionally show off their impressive wingspans. My sister-in-law posted pictures of the birds on Facebook and reveled in having these unique visitors. However, they soon found out there is a dark side to hosting these great birds of prey.
The first sign of trouble was when my niece and nephew started finding carcasses of various animals strewn around the yard, the discarded remnants of the hawks’ recent meals. Apparently, the hawks’ table manners, and bathroom habits leave a little to be desired, because the messes around the yard started to become more frequent. Cleaning up after the hawks started to become a regular duty for the family. Occasionally, when my brother-in-law’s family would try to relax in the shade of the beloved cottonwood tree, they would hear the disconcerting sounds of the hawks with their meals.
Next, my brother-in-law started noticing a few mice in their house. Since they have not had mice in the house before, they assume the mice are hiding from the hawks. My sister-in-law told me that the situation reminded her of the movie Jurassic Park, in which the park at the beginning of the movie was quiet and peaceful, before turning violent and wild. The back yard was getting a little wild.
However, they do not want to complain too much. The hawks have not bothered the family’s prize wiener dogs, and they have not been aggressive toward any friends or family in the back yard. My sister-in-law said they are learning to live with some of the less desirable aspects of their new tenants, and all things considered they think it is pretty neat to have these beautiful birds living with them.
This situation made me think about how we can keep little inconveniences in perspective. I worked as an auditor for the last 20 years, so I tend to look at things as if I were looking at a balance sheet. Having big beautiful hawks in the backyard is a major asset. Having to clean up after them is a liability, especially for my niece and nephew who get the brunt of the cleanup detail. The key is to remember how much pleasure you get from the hawks while you do the clean up.
When people remember the benefits or positive aspects of something it is easier to accept or balance in the associated cost. A perfect example of this occurred over the recent Fouth of July holiday. In result of the recent fires and the extreme dry conditions throughout the state, fireworks and most public firework displays were canceled. However, as I spoke with people at Lakewood on Parade and at the Arvada Fourth of July event, everyone seemed very accepting of the decision. People were disappointed, but they generally agreed that the safety benefits outweighed the cost of not having fireworks.