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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.

A Bear Does Whatever It Wants In The Woods

bears-trail-camera-nova-scotia

One Christmas season over a decade ago, I looked after a dog whilst her owners went out of town.

Tibbit is a big, friendly dawg who likes inspecting piles of leaves. She has a long lead which her benevolent human allows to go as far as possible. She knows (better than her accompanying human) that there are treats at the end of each walk.

One Saturday I didn’t get Tibbit out until after dark. We skirted the university (where her masters work) and went up a street bordering the campus. We both liked the Christmas lights. Near the top of the street we met an inebriated gentleman, warning us of a bear in the surrounding woods.

“Flush him out,” said he, pointing at the dog, “And I’ll get my 3 aught 3.”

“Get the rifle first,” I replied.

We then went our respective ways.

Tibbit and I doubted the veracity of the gentleman, so when we came to a trail through the woods, we took it. I will admit I did peer more intently into the gloom than usual. One trail led to a larger trail, which led back to the university. We advanced without incident.

On Sunday, I again walked Tibbit toward the university, though from a different direction. It was a crisp, clear day, and she gamboled (as much as the leash allowed ) through the new fallen snow. Sunshine gleamed. This time we were on the other side of the campus, but our walk eventually led to a position about half a mile away from where we were the previous evening.

We followed another trail into the woods, and admired the sun through the fir trees. The path was wide and sloped. It came to a turn some distance away, that led us even closer to where we were the day before. At the top of the slope, Tibbit stopped dead in her tracks.

She stared and stared. 

She glanced briefly into the woods, but mainly kept staring along the trail.

I saw nothing nor heard anything (and I was intent upon both).

Tibbit did not move and made not a sound. She just kept staring. After a solid two minutes of this, I started to backtrack.

She made no complaint.

You betcha she got her dog treats.

(image) https://i.cbc.ca/1.4288335.1505334305!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_620/bears-trail-camera-nova-scotia.jpg

Follow That Elephant

kenya_amboseli_corlettewesselswildlifeelephant2

The elephant was a curious pachyderm, and followed his persistent quest with a guileless intensity.

“More lucky than smart,” said some of the other elephants, as he blundered his way toward another piece of knowledge. They nodded their heads in his direction with the heavy weight of caution, and warned their small ones that too much thought would make them strange.

“An elephant wades in water,” they would sagely say, “only if the mud hole is wide enough.”

And the little ones would watch him, as they stood between the legs of their parents, and wish that they could follow.

[Image] https: //artofsafari.travel/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Kenya_Amboseli_CorletteWesselsWildlifeElephant2.jpg

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