Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Micellany: Crow Prefer Haddock, Cowbird Courting Display, Young Dove, and the Nature of Bark




I partially cleaned out the chest freezer in the basement. There were quite a number of paper wrapped meat packages marked 2003 and encased in ice. Having tried a packet of bratwurst, that wasn't dated and tough as nails, I deduced that the stuff from 2003 wouldn't be very tasty to humans. Not spoiled you understand, it had been frozen solid-- but, well beyond mere freezer burned but all the way to yucky.

Though as an elder friend had said, just remember that everything is someone's dinner. True. That's how the experiment was born.

Various species do stop by the goodie stump- fox, crow, coyote, stray cats, raccoons plus who knows what that I haven't seen but who has visited. Who might eat what? And in particular what would be the crow favorite.

The first day I put out a dozen rather freezer burned chicken breasts. They were popular as in, gone the next day, but I hadn't caught the diners in the act.

Perhaps species ID wasn't going to work, too many of them are night actors.

Okay, how about what carnivore treat is the most popular? The selection included cooked roast beef, and the rest raw: haddock, pork chops, venison bratwurst, and a container of liver.

This morning the ground beef and liver had been eaten or carried off. The bratwurst though chosen seems to have been tough for even those with good canines and claws as it was chosen but scattered whole.

Then a Crow flew across the yard...low. Ah ha!


Crow landed on the north side of the yard and began walking an eye on the stump but checking out things from the perimeter. The chief Grackle who had been bullying the Red-winged Blackbird who hangs out with the Grackles gave Crow the eye. Crow gave it right back and Grackle suddenly became interested in spilled seed again.


Now Crows never get up on the Goodie Stump until they've checked it thoroughly for suspicious possibilities. Crow walked behind stump then did a curved fly over the stump, landed on the birdbath, took the short hop back to the stump, grabbed a big slab of Haddock and went for a tree.
So of all the possible choices this Crow chose fish. I'd been watching through the screen of the patio door but couldn't see the tree he and his fish had landed in so I went out. There he was eating his haddock in the tree.

Crow looked...


...a beat passed.

Whoosh! Out of the tree he went, and you'll note leaving his haddock behind. Crows are heavy bodied fliers in the first place so that much haddock is better left safely up a tree rather than carried in an escape.

Changing of levels,


behind the Spruce tree,

then along the jogging path.


Crow speeds off. But later when I check the tree the haddock has disappeared. Likely that Crow or another circled back and grabbed it, ate it, or cached it when I wasn't looking.

One of the pair of young Mourning Doves, possibly the female takes a nap on the barrier within the nest. When the camera made a noise her eyes flew open but she stayed put.


I came across a twig with a bit of loose bark and stripped it further thinking about how Lola strips bark for the bowl of the nest. It always looks so pliable and rather an okay thing to sit on when I've watched her. Though if you'll notice the left end which was the loose section it has dried out and is hard and conceivably sharp. I now see the good reason for the dry grass which is then placed between the bark and the eggs and the sitter. And also why a plastic bag just might seem tempting compared to bark. It remains pliable and doesn't age into a sharp pokey thing.


The Cowbirds have arrived in mass and for whatever reason there are always far more males than females. Also note the Red-wing. He'd been bullied away from the feeder by the Grackles. Why for the last two years a Red-wing has appeared in the yard, I don't know. But he acts just like the species were your typical feeder bird.


Having been bullied previously Red-wing now takes a shot at one of the male Cowbirds.


See the guy with his beak in the air and a piece of cheese in his beak.
He is displaying what a good provider he'll be.

He is then upstaged by another male who is closer to the unmated female who starts the courting sequence.


Phase two, the bobbing run with spread tail and half cocked wings. Note the female just keeps eating, though she can see him but he gets no binoc look.


And the pointed stretch, phase 3, my favorite part. The hen deigns to actually glance over her shoulder at him.

In fact she may just like this guy as she turns and actually eats her way towards him. The beak to the sky food show off, gives his bit another try. The other male watches but does she?
Donegal Browne

1 comment:

crazedweazels said...

i found your post doing a google search for cowbird courtship. very nice pictures, I enjoyed them. I have two pairs of cowbirds currently coming to my feeder (an elevated feeder, about two stories off the ground) and one of the males keeps doing this. I had a hunch it was a courtship thing, but not too sure, so I turned to the 'net. I love the whistle that accompanies each display. Cheeky little things. Thanks for this post! :)