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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 Grave Beast Crosses My Path

 

victorian-cast-iron-grave-monument-lg

(image)http://www.cultofweird.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/victorian-cast-iron-grave-monument-lg.jpg

One sweltering day, which August sometimes keeps in reserve, I still desired a walk. However, there was no mad walk in the noonday sun for me. I waited until a semblance of evening appeared before I went outside.

It was to be a brief walk, twenty minutes or so. Through a graveyard, along city streets, crossing a pedestrian bridge over four lanes of traffic, then to ponder the broad river. After which, as slow a return.

As I walked through a historic graveyard (more than two centuries of the dead) I saw an animal deep among the grave stones. Larger than a cat, smaller than a dog. I went to investigate.

I was reasonably close when I realized it was a badger. Not a beast to toy with. They can be vicious, so I was careful to keep my distance. Feet and toes in sandals might be too inviting. The badger kept a close eye on me as we approached each other.

I reached the point where I had decided to go no further. When I stopped, the animal made a quick run and disappeared under a gravestone. It was a long stone, flat to the ground, covering the length of the grave. On closer inspection I noted burrow holes at either end of the stone. Entrance, and escape when necessary.

I had the desire to investigate further, but good sense – and the heat of the day – dissuaded me. I listened a moment for any rustle underground. To ascertain if there was any gnawing on bones. However, I wanted my own fingers and toes intact.

I left, pondering what its burrow might consist of.

DE

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.

DE

 


(image) http://robinloznakphotography.blogspot.ca/2012/02/early-bird.html

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