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Wonders of nature never cease

A king salmMidlothian Creek Oak Forest (left). | For Sun-Times Media

A king salmon on Midlothian Creek in Oak Forest (left). | For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 12, 2012 6:29AM



Julie Taylor was watching from her window as sparrows fed this month. Her home is near the railroad tracks in Canaryville on the South Side.

‘‘To my surprise, as I was standing watching the sparrows, I saw a magnificent flash of brown,’’ she emailed. ‘‘A Cooper’s hawk came down the trees on the tracks and scooped up one of the sparrows in its talons. He flew up into the tree with the sparrow and proceeded to try to eat it. The sparrow was not dead and managed to fly away with the hawk on its tail.

‘‘The sparrow flew into the neighbor’s bush, and the hawk landed under the bush. He then proceeded to climb into the bush, looking for the sparrow. The sparrow held its ground and did not move from the bush. The hawk came out of the bush and starting looking for the sparrow on the ground. This went on for a good 10 minutes. He went from the ground to the railing to the bush with no success. I stepped outside on the porch, and I was able to take a picture.

‘‘Just wanted to share.’’

There’s wonder in the outdoors, even in the most urban of areas, that compels sharing.

Taylor’s sharing reminded me of my two favorite tales of Cooper’s hawks, both of which came while I was stuck writing and was staring out my office window at the bird feeders in the backyard.

The first time, a Cooper’s hawk flew low down the alley to the north, then swerved and tried to snatch a feeding bird off our big wooden feeder. The hawk, though, missed so horribly that he crashed into the feeder hard enough to knock himself out. He eventually picked himself up, then flew off with his three-ringed tail between his legs (or at least I envisioned it that way).

The second tale involved a more skilled Cooper’s hawk. This one came around the back side of our maple in a surprise attack. It plucked a woodpecker off our suet basket so adroitly that the basket didn’t even shake.

Live well enough and long enough, and you’ll find the stories start to pile up.

There’s plenty of natural wonder to be found in the water, too.

Growing up, George Combs and Joe Petrizzo played and fished in Midlothian Creek in the south suburbs. But they never found anything like what was found in the creek last week: a Chinook salmon of 8 to 10 pounds.

Petrizzo, now a street superintendent for Oak Forest Public Works, was out with his crew, working on a bridge over the creek at 156th and Waverly.

‘‘Some guys on his crew spotted this thing holding in a deeper spot, and it really had not moved in a while, except back and forth a bit,’’ Combs emailed. ‘‘Anyway, they ended up catching it and taking some pics and letting it go.’’

OK, salmon swimming up creeks is a natural thing in the fall. It’s just not natural for that stream to be one in the south suburbs, far enough from Lake Michigan that I had to pull up Google Maps and figure out a possible route.

Then just wonder how and why enough to want to share.



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