Saturday, March 12, 2016

Singleton tells of unusual March 1992 encounter with red-tailed hawk

George Buster Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Mother Nature works in the strangest ways” was originally published in the March 26, 1992 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

During my travels around the countryside, I have experienced many strange happenings. I have witnessed several events that have caused many to look at me in a strange way, and I’m sure that they wonder whether there is any truth in some of these strange events. But I would not relate to my readers anything that wasn’t as I witnessed them.

I would like to share with you an event that happened just this past Saturday. It was one of the most unusual, and I couldn’t believe it was happening, even as I became a part of this strange event.

The time is now 3:10 p.m. on Sat., March 21, 1992. Upon returning home, I came straight to my computer and began to write out the story that you are about to read.

Around 1:30 p.m., I rolled out one of my motorcycles and decided to ride north on Highway 41 up into the hills, just as I have done many times before. After finishing several jobs in the yard that my wife had instructed me to do, I decided that I needed to get away for a few minutes of relaxation and rest.

Discovering that my better half had gone to town for some needed items, I put things in gear and headed north. The air was kind of cool so I hurriedly found a warm jacket to protect me from the chilly air.

Red-tailed Hawk.
As I sped across Limestone Creek and topped out the long hill to the north, I saw what I thought was a very large red-tail hawk standing right beside the asphalt road. I couldn’t believe that this wild bird was so close to the road and the speeding traffic that rushed by.

I proceeded on to the intersection of Ridge Road, where I turned around and headed back to where I had seen the huge hawk. I could not believe my eyes; the huge bird was still there, crouched within a few inches of the asphalt.

I pulled off the road just opposite the large hawk. I thought that any minute it would take to the air. Then I remembered that several vehicles had passed since I had turned around, and it had not flown from fear of these speeding autos.

I walked slowly across the highway; with each step I expected the large hawk to lift its wings and speed away. I walked within three feet of the beautiful bird, and it just sat there, continuing to stare at me.

Several vehicles sped by, the large hawk did not move. Then I noticed the hawk was standing on the carcass of a dead rabbit. It appeared that the rabbit had been hit by a speeding automobile, due to the fact that it was torn apart and crushed.

I could not believe that the huge hawk had not flown; I moved closer. Several vehicles were slowing down as though looking to see what I was investigating. I moved closer to the large bird. Then, I realized that something was wrapped around the left foot and leg of the large hawk.

Upon closer examination, I saw that the leg and foot were entangled in a mesh of wire about the size of a softball. I could not decide whether to try to remove the wire. I knew that the large hawk could be very vicious and mean when caught by someone.

I still had on my leather riding gloves and the quite heavy coat. Slowly I reached over and touched the large hawk on the back. Several automobiles had slowed down, trying to see what I was doing; the hawk only looked up at me, its sharp eyes gleaming.

I knew that the sharp beak could cut me like a knife as I reached slowly over with both hands and picked up the beautiful creature. I was expecting all heck to break loose as I slowly lifted the large hawk up and placed the trembling body under my right arm. There was no struggle as I placed my right arm around the large bird’s body and slowly began to untangle the mess of wire wrapped around the left leg of the wild, beautiful creature.

I could tell that the wire had been there for some time, due to the many cuts and rubbed places on the damaged leg. I could not believe that the leg was still usable, after seeing its condition. The trembling had almost ceased in the body of the large hawk; no effort had been made to try and get out from under my arm. I rubbed the top of the large bird’s head; I felt its beak. The beak was rough as though it had been damaged while trying to remove the mesh of small rusted wire from its wounded leg.

Finally, the wire was removed; the large bird continued to stay quiet and still. I examined the damaged leg and was amazed to find that it wasn’t broken and that none of the claws were broken or missing. Slowly I raised the large hawk up in front of me. Its head now rested in the crook of my left arm. I stroked its neck and back, expecting any minute for it to try and break loose. But no effort was made to free itself from my arms.

I wanted to stay there all the afternoon, but I still had chores to be done, and I knew that my friend and I had to say farewell. I placed the large hawk on the ground near the carcass of the dead rabbit. Slowly the hawk stepped over and started once again to pull away the flesh and swallow it.

I decided to see if the huge bird would let me pick it up again after I had removed the wire from its leg. The beautiful creature made no effort to resist as I reached down and cradled it in my arms.

I moved the carcass of the dead rabbit away from the busy highway. Slowly, I placed my friend down beside it and moved across the highway to my parked motorcycle. The large hawk continued to eat. As I started the engine, the beautiful hawk rose into the air and perched atop a small pine tree. Pulling onto the highway, I could see that the large eyes of the hawk were looking directly at me. I raised my left hand in a farewell salute.

Perhaps our trails might cross again. Who knows? Strange things do happen.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School, served in the Korean War, moved to Monroe County in 1961 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s column “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

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