When we left the lek—the grouse were dancing joyfully and then a beautiful predator crashed the party. The dancers were hunkered down awaiting their fate. Party guests were tense watching to learn if a dancer would die……
The beautiful yet menacing hawk stretched her wings wide, tilting them to slow her flight, seeming to hover a foot from the ground. She flexed her sharp talons, brushing her lethal weapons lightly through the feathers of the largest male grouse teasing him with her power, strength and beauty.
The grouse seemed to shudder or was that just the breeze in his full coat of feathers?
Then, seeing nothing she wished to take, the hawk lifted her wings and soared fast and true through the big bright blue sky.
A sigh went up from the crowd. The grouse couples arose with new life and commenced to shake their tail feathers as if in triumph. Yet, the moment of peace was brief as in one corner of the dance “floor” a scuffle ensued.
Two males drunk on survival, squared off, eying each other like prize fighters. They circled one another looking for weakness. Ducking and weaving, jabbing, with a right hook here and faint there.
The tension mounted as the insults began to fly back and forth between the two cocky birds. Such fights often ended in blood-shed. Would the grouse survive the hawk only to be lethally injured in a dance room brawl?
Find out in the final installment of….The Forbidden Dance….
“The Forbidden Dance” is an extended metaphor with blatantly anthropomorphic perspectives of some of the events experienced during the 2012 Grouse Viewing Trips as recounted by CEC’s Northwest Organizer, head grouse wrangler, and abuser of metaphors Sasha Nelson. Her professors are seriously considering confiscation of her advanced degree in animal behavior and her colleague biologists at Rocky Mountain Wild are threatening to never speak to her again. In her defense Sasha states: “I was so sleep deprived I think I was channeling my Nature Writing in the West professor who used to say – a message doesn’t have to be scientifically accurate to be understood.”