Yesterday morning, I got to work unusually early. I didn’t get up any earlier; I just moved a little a faster getting ready. It wasn’t intentional, but sometimes that happens. I even stopped for coffee, and still I was at work before the sun was up, well, I would have been if the sun had come up, but it was a nice cold drizzly morning so there was no sun, just the good crisp early dark.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a crested caracara swoop over the lot and across the road right in front of me. I slowed down to watch him soar out over the fields near the building, gaining altitude and quickly becoming nothing more than a dark point in the gray expanse of sky.

I don’t see caracaras often, and I’ve never seen one around where I work. I’ve seen a lot of interesting birds around the building, but this was kind of a treat. As I watched him fly away, I couldn’t help but think of the previous night’s election and wonder what sort of meaning might have been read into the appearance of such a beautiful raptor. Good omen or ill?

I’m not one to take stock in omens, but the idea of reading our hopes and fears and finding either solace or justification in some bird’s random passing fascinates me. Perhaps the crested caracara’s black and white coloration could represent the newly divided nature of our government. Perhaps the bird’s powerful flight could imply that with divided government we can soar over all our problems.

Or maybe it’s a warning about the modern conservative penchant for viewing the world in black and white. Perhaps I should have looked for some gray birds: a mourning dove or scissor-tailed flycatcher. Most of the scissor-tails have already fled the country, though.

On the other hand, this bird is known colloquially as the Mexican eagle. So maybe its northbound flight across the field symbolizes illegal immigrants, and predatory ones at that, sneaking through the dawn into our country to destroy our culture and do all the other horrible things the right wing expects.

Speaking of wings, the bird did have both a healthy and functioning right and left wing. Neither one was dominant, and that circles me back (hopefully not too much like a vulture which I also saw an unusual number of yesterday) to that divided government thing. I do generally prefer divided government. Perhaps that’s a function of having once been a debate coach playing with my mostly optimistic nature.

I watched the bird disappear, feeling a little sorry for the poor guy for all the burdens I’d just laid on his shoulders, I mean, he’s just a bird trying to find something to eat in a world where such meals must seem increasingly scarce to a hunter like him. I wondered if our newly elected Republican house had any member who would worry themselves over wildlife and healthy ecosystems. If that wasn’t such a heartbreaking thought, I might have laughed.

In the gray predawn,
a crested caracara
swoops over the road.