It is a whirlwind in here



Picture Of An Early Bird Special


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.




Nature Raw In Web And Claw

It is not often that I wait for a city bus and hope that it is late. But this is what happened a few days ago as I stood waiting for a 5:15 evening bus.
At about 5:12 I noticed a commotion in the sky. I was about three minutes from the harbour as the bird flies. Overhead, above some low-rise building,s was an eagle being chased by four crows. I have seen this before, and understand that the crow risks its life by swooping too close to the eagle. I assume the crow knows this also, and no doubt those swoops toward the large bird are some safe distance. However, an eagle is a fast bird of prey, and can move at speed. So, although from my angle, the dive bombing crows (and they each took their turns) appeared to be within a wing-length of the eagle, perhaps they did not.
However, the odd situation – which I have never seen before – was that above the circling and diving crows were three seagulls. And they were also taking their turns swooping down toward the eagle. It was a bit like an Aerial dogfight, with the black birds keeping a similar distance from the eagle, while the white birds would occasionally come down to the level of the crows and take a charge at the eagle. I have no idea if the crows and seagulls were coordinating their attacks, but they did not get into each others way. The eagle did little more than keep a steady and straight flight.
Of course, this time the bus was on time, and I didn’t want to wait an additional half hour. Generally, the smaller birds will eventually go their own way as long as they have chased the eagle from the area. I assume this is what happened. But what if I missed a more coordinated attack, with all birds in tandem against the eagle, and an explosion of feathers? Did the bird of prey end up praying?

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