Saturday, January 16, 2010

Crow world revisited

Three Ravens visited our plot this morning prompting a collective pursuit by the Crows who really own the place! The Ravens (Corvus corax) appear to produce extraordinary rage on the part of the crows (Corvus Caurinus ). The crows do not seem to mind the Eagles, Heron or Seagulls, though they do maintain distance. However there is something about the Raven that always produces a noisy pursuit. The Crows have a congregational life and the teamwork they display is remarkable. They always have a watchbird and a distant early warning system to alert the pianist and me to the presence of the enemy. The Crows play frequently, diving and wheeling and rotating with one another at regular intervals. Life for them is not always serious.The Raven tends to be a more solitary bird and seems more of an outsider, largely unwelcome, at least here. The range of vocalization of the Crow is rather outstanding, though I cannot tell precisely what they are saying. Certain phrasing seems consistent in certain identifiable situations. They have learned from the Seagulls how to crack clams by dropping them from height onto the rocks. and they have no trouble competing with the gulls for shore side delicacies. I think the Seagulls are too stupid to learn anything from the crows. The gulls seem to have no time for one another and though they congregate together they are always competing. The Crows know precisely when the smaller tree fruits ripen so they eat them completely, two weeks before ripening, thwarting the now empty handed orchardist. I wonder at the choice of the Stellar's Jay (Cyanacitta stelleri) as the provincial bird. They do not have any skill or "savoir faire" to compare with the Northwestern Crow. They may be beautiful, but they are noisy, obnoxious, and have attention deficit disorder. I frankly cannot think of any bird that could compete with the brains of the Crow. It seems "Beauty before Brains" was the operative phrase when the unfortunate choice was made by the B.C. Committee.

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