Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Scatological Investigations

The varied and colourful droppings of the ubiquitous North Western Crow are a source of information for the eclectic nature of their dietary habits. For those of us of a coprophitic bent, the seasonal changes and omnivorous habits of this species, Corvus caurinus,is worthy of study since they are one of the most adaptable of birds, their success based on diet and teamwork. The pianist and I, living as we do in the country on Lotus Island, have the fortune, or misfortune, of having a large painted deck under three mature Western Red Cedar trees that serve as a table-toilet for crows. The volume and character of the droppings change remarkably through the season and as I clear the tree droppings on the deck and its furniture daily with my gas powered blower I observe; dry small cones, and lichen and moss fragments from the crow disturbance and the little red squirrel scratchings,and the spontaneous needle decidua. In the spring, small dead cedar branches are ripped from the tree by crows for nest repair and are often dropped, or dismissed for being unsuitable for repair. When I have rid the deck of tree detritus, I have the opportunity to investigate the associated scat and leftovers, clam shells, half eaten cherries and red plums that have slipped through their toes after initially being successfully pinioned on the branch. Naked cherry and plum stones, flesh successfully eaten in full. The scat from clams and tube worms, small birds or baby quail,sweet cherries and wild plums, pear and apple fragments, all leave a digested colourful deposit of brown crunchy, smooth or particulate, black and punctate, white and thin and watery; all with an interesting textural variety and compelling graphic intricacies within the scat splat, Rorschach like in nature: all scat pockmarking the deck with remarkable tenacity,resistant to the hose sprayer and requiring a stiff brush, elbow grease and spray to remove. Even the glass topped table and patio chairs are a scat target and all varieties are equally adherent on the glass and metal. If you are willing to pay the price for clean eating on a deck, under spreading cedar trees, in crow and berry territory, you will never resent the blow and spray and brush activity. Between the scat and the copious water spray, the cedars are secondary beneficiaries for the role they serve as a table-toilet. Live and let live with Mother Nature in all her glory.

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