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Birds At War – One Crow Sorrow

 I don’t know how it started – I heard it, but didn’t see it.


There was a harsh thud against the window. If you are used to it (I have heard it enough) you know that a bird has struck the glass. Generally  hard enough to stun or kill. Break their necks. When he was a child, my father saw a bird hit a window so hard that it smashed the glass and ended inside the room. It was dead.


So I got out of my chair and pulled the blinds open and took a look. By the sidewalk was a blackbird, dead enough looking for me to assume it was dead. As it proved to be. But, also on the scene were  five or six blackbirds, calling and fluttering and diving and raising right hell .I thought it an unusual commotion even for the death of one of their own,
And then I looked up into the fir tree on the corner of the property. A third of the way from the ground was a crow. A very cautious crow. A crow twisting its head every which way it could.


Now, I did not see what made the blackbird crash into the window. It is reasonable to assume the crow was somehow the cause. Blackbirds chase crows, and dive bomb them, and worry them, and harry them, and do so with the help of other blackbirds. Crows like to raid their nests and eat their eggs or their young. A crow is a big bird compared to a blackbird. Strength in numbers.


So, I suspect the dead blackbird made an in flight miscalculation while chasing the crow. It got too close. Then, as it tried to get out of range, it crashed into the window. I was quick to look out the window, and the crow was already in the tree. It may have lunged at the blackbird, or spread its wings. or aimed its beak. The blackbird moved too quickly in its attempt to get out of the way.


But the crow was not out of the woods yet. It wasn’t going to take to the sky and attempt an escape. A half dozen blackbirds could inflict injury on the crow. It was going to stay put.


I had the unusual experience of being nearly level with the crow. I watched it. I watched its head. I watched its eyes. Birds have active, cautious, suspicious eyes. Their eyes are large in relation to their heads. Their eyes are jammed into their eye sockets, so they are generally  unmovable. Consequently, when they want to move their eyes, they have to move their head.


So, this crow was moving its head a lot.

Five or six blackbirds kept hovering and diving. Even two blue jays joined in the ruckus, screeching in the background at all the commotion.

This went on about five minutes, then the other birds departed. A couple of minutes later, the crow lifted from the branch. It had murder in its eyes.

Kafka And A Hungry Bird Give Thanks

46029915

[Franz Kafka and his sister, Ottla.]

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the many diary entries Franz Kafka either did not make, or destroyed after the fact. He would have made no references to an actual ‘Thanksgiving Day’, but I feel this is close enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

30 September 1917

There was a knocking at the window this morning. A polite and concise rap rap rap. It awoke me while the room was barely light.

Who could want me so early? And then again, an insistent rap rap rap. I was confused, wondering where I was. The panic of Prague weighted down the covers, and I was sorry I had opened my eyes. The room, the smells – even the bed – was not familiar, so I was both bothered and assured by the strangeness.

When I realized I was not in Prague – for who could knock on my third floor window – I remembered I was in Zurau, where things were different. Here my window looked onto a yard, and anyone could  be at it. Was there something wrong? Was Ottla after my help? I even wondered, as I searched for my slippers, if her young man had somehow arranged leave from the army, and after much travail had managed to reach the wrong room. I could understand that very well.

I walked hesitantly over to the window, and cautiously pulled back the curtain. Such a commotion ensued that I stepped back in some fright. A bird flew immediately past the glass, its wings frantic as it screeched in agitation. It had been perched on my window ledge, pecking away at the frame. Ottla says it may have been after insects or grubs settled in for the winter.

“Insects in the walls of the house?” I asked.  “Yes.” She was quite matter-of-fact.  “It is a warm place for them during the cold months.”  I was not inclined to argue with the logic, but neither had I thought I would be existing in such close proximity with the tenants of nature.

Houses for warmth and bugs for food. It is a blend of the base and the subtle which I can appreciate. Much – I like to think – as does the annoyed bird.

A Blue Jay Goes To Sleep Outside My Window

a_proud_blue_jay

In the dusk, a blue jay has gone hop … hop … hop, from one branch of the fir tree to another, right up to my window. And he has perched there, looking in for the past four minutes. I whisper “hello”

The blue jay has been there twenty-five minutes. I thought it might have gone to sleep, but it just shifted, and then pecked at some tree needles. I doubt I have ever seen a sleeping bird.

Two crows just flew over, making their crow sounds. Woke up the blue jay, who paid attention. But then, as far as I can tell, the blue jay went back to sleep.

A window is a quarter open, a fan is on, and I’m watching NCIS (with the sound lower than usual). Yet the blue jay seems to sleep on. I might not be able to see it when it becomes totally dark.

Well, it is now too dark to see the blue jay asleep on the branch – just the barest silhouette. I’m guessing the blue jay will be gone before I awake. But I’ll look.

These were my twitter feeds until half past midnight, when I went to bed. I turned off the lights, and would not turn them on again in case the change would wake up the blue jay. The following were scrawled in the dark, except for the street light coming in the window. The time checks are from the alarm clock.

12:30 There is now some rain, though not heavy. The blue jay sleeps on.

 4:45  The blue jay is still asleep. The wind is strong enough to make the branch sway.

5:15  There are some distant bird calls, which are answered within five minutes. The blue jay sleeps.

5:25 There is some pre-sunrise light from the east. It is green. There are now a number of birds chirping in the distance. No movement from the blue jay.

5:50 There is enough light from the windows to read my hand-writing. The blue jay is gone. It slept the night one meter (three feet) from my window.
(image)4.bp.blogspot.com/-hBaC-comxFA/UCEpdJmcg4I/AAAAAAAAA64/pyW3DTw-aLM/s1600/A_Proud_Blue_Jay.jpg

A Bird Digs The Earth For Earth Day

american-robin

I saw a sight that I believe I have actually never seen, though it is fabled the world over.

Standing on the front stoop to test the air I saw a robin on the grass. Robins are rather skittish and usually, when a human presence is so close, it will make them hop (and they truly do *hop*) away. But this one stayed put.

My understanding is that birds ‘hear’ the worms under the earth – that is how they detect them. I assume that is why they so often have their head in a cocked position. However, for this robin, the listening part of the chase was over.

As I watched the robin made a strike into the earth with its beak. It was then that an almost cartoon-like image occurred. The bird had a portion of the worm in its beak and began to pull. It pulled and pulled and the worm stretched and stretched. It made me think of someone pulling a threaded needle from the fabric they were sewing. The length of the worm became even longer than the robin’s body. With this constant and slow tug, the worm finally popped out of the earth.

Then the robin had a go at it.

The bird took at the long, brown earthworm and began to snip off pieces with its beak. It could not have been more effective if it had a pair of scissors. Substantial, beak-sized pieces which it swallowed quickly. The long earthworm became shorter and shorter, giving the robin less to hold on to. In under two minutes the worm became one remaining morsel hanging from the robin’s beak. It was only then that the robin began to hop across the grass. The last piece of worm disappeared inside the robin and the robin quickly took off.

One satisfied predator.

One less worm.

(image)1.bp.blogspot.com/-da07hMgESEs/VT1Y9cNgOCI/AAAAAAAAMIs/DVG3oaeFGME/s1600/American-Robin.jpg

Gulled By The Gull – The Smart Bird Strikes

 

seagull-beakI was by the harbour – chilly though it was – standing on one of the wharfs that was still in sunlight.

I had been cautious as I approached the edge, because I did not want to disturb an injured seagull, It was huddled beside a corner post, trying to stay out of the wind. I figured there was enough room for both of us.

The gull did shift its weight from time to time, and seemed to keep its side toward the wind. It was not a sleek-looking bird, and had misaligned feathers on one of its wings. It favoured an odd side-hop when it moved. I wondered what misadventure it might have experienced.

There was little traffic on the harbour, but the sunshine and clear sky made the water a deep and beautiful blue. I was looking out toward the ocean proper when a commotion startled me. My decrepit gull was fast into the air and then, even faster, into the water. Seconds later the bird was back in the air, its beak full of crab.

The gull landed a very safe distance from me. It began to dispatch the crab with fast and furious strikes of its beak. The gull kept the crab on its back as it pecked away at the softer underside. This was no delicate fine dining, as pieces of the crab’s shell flew in various directions, and made sounds as they landed on the surrounding dock. Soon, the only motions the crab made were from the piercing of the gull’s beak.

Considering that I dine – admittedly, with a tad more finesse – upon lobster, I had no problem with the gull acquiring its own meal. It had been earned.

And I will make no more assumptions about the state of gulls by appearance alone.

(image) http://www.cepolina.com/photo/nature/animals/birds/seagull/gull/4/seagull-beak.jpg

Picture The Loon In Nature

common_loon

The surface of the lake is so smooth that the flow of the differing currents can be clearly seen as shimmering streaks reflecting the sunshine.

Breaking through these jewelled bands, like shadows over unrecognized borders, are three loons – one Red-throated, and two black-capped Common. They stray apart, become lost in shafts of sparkling water, and as unexpectedly re-appear further along the shore.

The Red-throated keeps a slight distance from the other two, is usually the first to dive. Dive and disappear so cleanly that only the barest ripple betrays it. The other two quickly go without a sound, a liquid dive which leaves the water empty, save for the dancing sunshine.

And then a head.

And then two more bodies break the surface, far from where they went under, moving away with an ease that makes them seem part of the water. One of them wallows slightly on its side, and reaches far down its breast to preen. After a few nibbles, it rights itself and unhurriedly joins its companions.

They become a distant trio of sleek shapes, and disappear in the haze of horizon and glinting sun.

DE

(image)http://www.bioexpedition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Common_Loon.jpg

canadian_dollar_-_reverse(image)https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ef/Canadian_Dollar_-_reverse.png

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