One day last autumn I was with Elizabeth in the living room of the two-legger house. She was making two-legger fur on her sticks and I was hard at work keeping her feet warm. All was as it should be until I felt a shadow in the room. I knew I hadn’t imagined it when Elizabeth dropped her sticks and called Kay. But Kay wasn’t in hearing range….
A few minutes later, while both of us were looking out the wall hole to see if it would come back, a great big brown flapper seemed to drop out of the sky. It wasn’t flapping. Elizabeth said it was soaring. And it was soaring straight into our wall hole!
It was huge. Even if the glass wasn’t there to keep critters out, that flapper would have had trouble getting through without clipping its wing tips. We thought there was going to be a terrible crash.
But the flapper realised just in the nick of time that it couldn’t pass through. Maybe it saw us at the last moment. Sometimes the wall hole has a sort of shine on it or it reflects instead of letting you see through. Little flappers bump into it sometimes by mistake. But I’ve never seen a flapper this big crash into a wall hole!
Elizabeth said it was a baby white headed big black flapper.
White headed big black flapper fishing. Click on the photo to learn more about these raptors. Photo from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Facebook page.
I said no. It was brown and way too big for one of those.
She explained that it takes them a few years to grow the black and white feathers that the mature flappers wear. And because they aren’t as good as flying, their big primary feathers are inches longer than those of the adult birds – it gives them more lift, more time to manoeuvre. Which was a good thing for this youngster. We winced as one of his flapper tips smacked the wall hole. But he got away fine.
I think he was a bit shaken up by his experience, though. Elizabeth let me go outside because I was so excited by what we’d witnessed. I saw the big brown flapper fly past Al’s and Joanne’s house and down over the bay to a big old dead jack pine, which he managed to grab with his feet on his third pass. He folded up his wings and sat there for a long time, making a lot of chirping noises.
His parents flew over to see what he was on about. I don’t understand white headed big black flapper talk, but it sounded as if they were trying to get him to come back to their house. It’s in a tree on the island past Siggy’s Island. It sounded like the youngster was saying, “No way! I just nearly killed myself doing that flying thing and I’m not going anywhere that way again! No way!”
Eventually mom and dad flew back to their house. Perhaps they thought that if they ignored him and went home, he’d eventually fly back. The big brown flapper was a stubborn cusser though. He meant what he told them. I know because I listened to him chirping away. He was really loud. And he kept on chirping. All. Night. Long. Every once-in-a-while I heard the parents from the island calling back. I think they were telling him to shut up and go to sleep. If I spoke white headed big black flapper, I’d have been yelling at him, too!
I think in the morning his dad read him the riot act. “Get back home this minute or you’ll never see another fish/deer haunch/goose from me again!” It’d work with me. I just love eating too much. Evidently, it worked for junior, too. The noise eventually stopped, and later in the day I saw the whole family cruising the thermals over the next bay down.