Editor’s Note

It was a perfect first day of school morning on our neighbor’s driveway. Beautiful weather. Kids dressed in their new clothes scarfing down mini donuts. Chatty parents chugging coffee in anticipation of the start of a new year.

Getting the several dozen kids from our street into one photo had always been a challenge, but we did it. And then it happened. A headless bunny dropped from the sky and onto the driveway in front of the children. It was right out of Wes Craven’s playbook.

We’re not sure who was more upset that day: the kids who witnessed the gore, or the now breakfast-less hawk who no longer had her meal.

Our neighborhood was lucky enough to have scientists among us, who had a nice way of explaining the food chain to the kids, a fitting start to the first day of learning for the year.

A few years ago, I told the story to one of our animal control officers who had an even better one: A woman was replying to a “found pet” notice we had published of a beautiful Papillion puppy. The un-chipped dog was valuable and he wanted to be sure this was the rightful owner. Among other identifying information, he asked about the conditions under which the pet had gone missing. The woman proceeded to tell him that a hawk swooped down right in front of the woman, in her yard, and carried the pup away. The animal control officer paused, then laughed for a minute.

That’s when he explained to me that hawks aren’t like the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. They will kill their prey early on, and often remove parts they won’t eat so their cargo will be lighter on the way to the meal. There was no way the beautiful, fully assembled pup in custody was hers. Other parts of her story didn’t add up either, leading him to believe she was being deceptive.

For this issue, we’ll leave the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom tales out of it. Instead, we feature again the beautiful photography of Rich Zahren, and his adorable shots of the cuter side of the Mt. Lebanon kingdom — the babies! As spring renews our yards and our gardens, check out Rich’s photos and Merle Jantz’s story on the wildlife babies you’re likely to see in your yard this year (page 20).

While we have your attention, remember to microchip your animals and do not leave them outside unattended. Even a bird of prey’s gotta eat.