But winter is still hard. I can tell this has been a hard winter because I’ve never seen the rhododendron leaves so shrunken. I went into the backyard after lunch to feed the birds when suddenly I saw a blur of feathers and heard air forced through feathers and a sparrow chattering angrily. It was a sharp-shinned hawk chasing a house sparrow. The hawk failed in this chase and retreated to the top of the swing set, red eyes hungry, while the sparrow took refuge in a bush. I went back into the house to see if O had seen this microdrama, then went back outside. I started shaking the ice out of our sump-pump exhaust hose, and suddenly I heard the hawk and sparrow again, except this time the hawk was successful. I think he (or she) must have waited from a high point (like our roof or some nearby bushes) and struck when the sparrow assumed the coast was clear. The hawk carried the sparrow over to a spot near the swing set, the sparrow still alive, and then must have administered the coup de grace after eyeing me. I walked over to the spot a few minutes later but there was no trace of blood or feathers.