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A Bird in the Hand Story of the Hawk and the Kinglet

A Bird in the Hand Story of the Hawk and the Kinglet

A Bird Rescue Story

You’ve likely heard the saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” But do you know what it means? This is both sage advice, but also constrictive.

A bird in the hand saying means that it’s better to take care of and be happy with what you already have than to try to go for more. This can certainly be prudent and practical advice. However, depending on the circumstances, it might also be holding you back from greater success.

Advice for Heeding or Disbelieving

So whenever hearing maxims from the sages of the ages, it’s always good to ask two things:

  • What does it mean?
  • Is it really true?

Whether this saying is true, depends on the context and the one pondering it. If it’s about being satisfied, grateful and content with what you have, then yes, a bird in the hand wisdom helps keep us grounded in gratitude.

However, if it’s someone trying to discourage you from pursuing your dreams, then you should question if the bird in hand adage applies to you in this circumstance. For rational and steady pursuit of one’s passion through daily goal setting is almost always a good thing.

When it comes to a bird in the hand adage, it turns out it’s not just humans who contemplate and deliberate, as the following story will reveal.

A Bird in the Hand…

…or the Talons

We heard the familiar crash against our dining room window and our son, Nikolai rushed to see if a bird had hit and fallen.

“Guys… COME QUICK… it’s a PREDATOR!!” Hissed Nikolai. I say “hissing” because he was using the really loud whispering sound people use when they need to whisper but with urgency… projected in a stronger hissing sound to get the volume and convey the urgency.

I jumped up from my desk where I was working and joined Nikolai at the window.

There on the bird seed littered deck was a bird we had never seen that close up before… just sitting on our deck.

Bird Crashes on Windows

Living in the woods as we do, we get the occasional bird crashing into our glass windows. Though far less so since we’ve implemented various bird deflector devices.

Fortunately, most fly away, unharmed except perhaps their ego, such as the cardinals that were picking a fight with their own reflection. Some fall stunned, and we’re able to nurture them by holding them in warm hands until they recover enough to fly off.

One injured cardinal with a broken wing was taken to a nearby vet that takes in injured birds for free to help them recover and then release. That angel of a vet — Animal Hospital of Walnut Cove — mended the broken wing, then proceeded to house and care for it for the next 5 weeks or so before releasing it.

A few bird strikes are almost instantaneous death such as those suffering a severe concussion or broken neck. For these, we shed a tear, say a prayer and bury them.

In this same month of December, we were able to rescue two birds: a cardinal and another lovely bird, new to us: a golden-crowned kinglet, Regulus Satrapa.

Golden Crowned Kinglet rescued bird. we were able to rescue two birds: a cardinal and another lovely bird, new to us: a golden-crowned kinglet, Regulus Satrapa.
Golden crowned kinglet, rescued from a predator after crashing into our window. Image by

What Kind of Predator Bird Is It?

But back to our story.

On this day, the crash against the window sound we heard was too small to have been this large predatory bird sitting on the deck in front of us. After it was all over, research revealed that the predator bird was a sharp shinned hawk, AKA sharpie.

There, right in front of us on the floor of our deck, was a hawk. But more than that, the hawk had a bird in its talons, as it focused intently on a spot on something on the deck.

That’s when we discovered the source of the window strike. Just four feet from the hawk was a downed golden crowned kinglet, stunned but alive, as it sat on the deck recovering from its crash.

You could see the hawk deliberating. “I’ve got this bird in my talons, but there’s another bird, right there.” The Hawk’s head bobbed down and to the left where the kinglet sat.

Before I could stop him, our son, Nikolai, protector and destroyer all in one, burst out of the door screeching his favorite wild creature screech. It so startled the hawk, that he dropped the dead titmouse and flew away.

A Sharp-Shinned Hawk with a titmouse in its talons.
A sharp-shinned hawk (aka Sharpies) with a titmouse in its clutches, as it surveys a nearby golden-crowned kinglet. Is a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (or another on the deck)?

Moral of a Bird in the Hand Story

So… that hawk, trying to get two birds, ended up with none. Now I say that Nikolai rushed out before I could stop him, because I would’ve had him go out quietly enough that the hawk might just fly away with his titmouse prey intact. As it is, my son’s headlong rush, cause so much commotion that all the hawk could do was flee.

Of course I was in favor of saving the kinglet, but felt bad for depriving the hawk of the titmouse meal he had already earned. That was a double loss, and thus rendering the lost life of the titmouse as useless.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

But such are the lessons of life.

Meanwhile, the kids and I all got to hold the precious golden-crowned kinglet, who seemed totally unafraid and in no hurry to leave. Such a beautiful, delicate, gentle bird, he stayed with us for around five minutes or so, recovering but then also eyeing us curiously before deciding to finally fly off.
Golden crowned kinglet, rescued from a predator after crashing into our window. Image by
Golden crowned kinglet, rescued from a predator after crashing into our window. Image by
Golden crowned kinglet, rescued from a predator after crashing into our window. Image by

And so goes a somewhat happy ending. Not for the hawk or the titmouse, but definitely for this lovely little kinglet.

Meanwhile, check out our latest on bird deflectors for home and garden. There you can also see the video closeup of one the cardinals we’ve rescued.

RELATED: Rare white cardinal. And this is helpful if you’d like to know more about beneficial birds for the yard and garden, or this one will help if birds are decimating your crops, such as have ours.


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