Monday, October 13, 2008

Crows Doing What? Part I

I stop by the Post Office which is closed to put a letter into the box. Next to the little parking lot a murder of Crows is foraging. Perhaps six are working the grassy area between the Post Office and the railroad tracks. I fully expect the six or so Crows to take off the second I get out of the car as that is the usual behavior here. I take my letter walk over to the mailbox, without looking at them, and they seem to be paying no attention at all. The sentinels don't call the warning so they continue to go about their business. But why?

Ah ha! They are used to people pulling over at all times of the day and night to do business with the Post Office when it's open and to get out to mail things in the box when it isn't. Therefore anyone who is mailing something isn't paying the least bit of attention to them normally and they've gotten used to being "invisible".


I pull the car vertical to their area, pull out the equipment, actually get out of the car, they don't fly, and suddenly I realize that even though I'm in town, I don't see another human being anywhere in view.

(I didn't know why at the time, but I've since figured it out. It's between 5 and 6 PM so nearly everyone, or perhaps actually everyone, this being a scheduled, conventional sort of community, is at home having supper. Yes, supper. Dinner is lunch. And as they don't go out to eat after the theatre when folks in NYC eat a meal called supper, they have supper when New Yorkers are having dinner.)

No humans. Crows who are habituated to humans within the parking lot. Boffo!

A Crow suddenly focuses on a group to the east. Note that he is standing near a bit of paper. See it partially obscured behind the bird?

The bird on the far right seems to have discovered an eatable. Note the piece of paper we just spotted far left, west, beside the bare spot. The western bird we were looking at previously is striding rapidly toward the eating bird.

The striding bird confronts the eating bird. The sentinel bird who had been north of the group is no longer in view.

Here is a zoom of the standoff, Strider's neck is really bristling. Now it may be that Strider is bullying the Food bird. But Crow culture is very complicated so I'm not sure what is actually going on. With Crows things are sometimes not what they seem at all. They have been known to gather food in one spot to share with a mate later. It's possible that whomever was previously guarding the stockpile, called out "This is ours" and then began to forage as well. It's also possible that that a bird of lower status is supposed to fork over the goods when requested. And as they do look very similar as I've not watched this flock before, that they've switched places and the bird on the left is the aggrieved party. I don't know.

Then one of the birds eats the food. I don't know which one. Note the bird who is far left, has noticed something is going on.

Then there are three. Two of which are staring at each other. Has the third come to intercede?

Then there are four.
??? After a possible Crow conversation...

Two turn north. Note the bulge in the grass line into the bare spot where they are standing. Far right bird looks to be about to boogie off and the other bird is looking at the sky.

The two birds who had turned north have now begun to forage again. The other two birds have walked behind them and are heading west with striding purpose.

The two foraging birds look up with focus.

The sentinel bird has now gotten back into position and is looking at the following bird. That bird, the one following the first, looks at the sentinel and pauses as the lead bird (being pursued?) walks faster.

The lead bird looks back at the "pursuer".

The sentinel seems no longer to be watching. The lead bird sees something on the ground. Pursuer notices.

Eye contact between Sentinel and Pursuer.

Lead finds some food. Pursuer sees it.

Here's a closer view.

PAUSE-- Because of the many photographs, and though I started this blog yesterday, I wasn't able to finish it in one day. Realizing the issue eventually, I posted a completely different blog for yesterday, which is what follows directly below this one. Therefore in order to see the rest of the Crows adventure, you'll need to scroll down past the directly following post, that you may have read already, "Amaze Your Friends! Spout Scientific Names"and get to, "Crows Doing What? Part II".

See you down there. D. B.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had NO idea that crows ( other birds? ) did that submissive belly up posture. Fascinating!