Friday, September 28, 2012

THE CORVID GAME: Crows vs Blue Jays

8 56 40 AM   This is the new stick pile.  It's a slightly different model than the one the sparrows have had for years and this one seems to have attracted a Crow.
And as Crows have a rule that there always has to be a sentinel, here she is on the wire.
Stick Pile Crow appears to be giving me the LOOK. 
A small flap climb.
And another look.
Checks the stump.
Landing gear ready.
He looks at the buffet which includes dried corn and dried dog food.  Then suddenly looks up alert.

And flies over to the grape arbor and peers into the Spruce tree.
8:58:51 AM  Then cocks his head, still looking into the Spruce body tensed.
8:59:08AM  And suddenly Crow is no longer there but a rather pleased Blue Jay has taken his perch.

8 59 21 AM  A species rarely known for discretion, Blue Jay hops onto the bird house.
8 59 32AM  Crow comes bombing back to the grape arbor perch from behind the Blue Jay,  and Jay flushes back  toward the Spruce where he nearly collides with his Blue Jay cohort.

8 59 37  There is still a Crow sentinel but she is looking toward the park and now on the wire much closer to the trees and the Jays.
 8 59 41 AM One of the Jays is now in the north Spruce that abuts the first to the south.

 9 00 05  Jay hops down to the woodpile, looks NE.
 9 00 06  And the Corvid Screaming officially begins.  Previously there had been a call from both species here and there, now everyone is calling to everyone else and at every one else.  Its deafening.

 9 00 12  And a Crow flies in over Woodpile Blue Jay's head and lands on the wire west of the Blue Jay's perch.
9 00 39
9 00 39
9 00 39  Note it took less than a second from the first photo where the second Crow is preparing for a landing until  a complete folded wing landing and a look between the two Crows to take place.
 9 00 59  It takes 10 seconds for a Blue Jay to land between them.
 9 00 59  Jay looks at right Crow.
9 00 59   Then left Crow as she begins to turn.

9 01 01 And by two seconds later Blue Jay has rocketed himself into the air in what looks like a sitting position and right Crow is re-balancing herself.

9 01 30  I scan the foliage. Where did everyone go?  There is no screaming.  The games of Blue Jays vs Crows have finished?  The squirrels who took to the trees during the "battle" are still waiting.  So I wait too.

9 02 50  Wait, who should be out on the new stick pile but a Crow, delving for something in the stick bark.  Then Stick Crow takes off toward the northwest.
9 03 12  And now there is a sentinel Crow watching the squirrels come out of the trees.  The same bird as before?  I don't know.
 9 03 31  She takes off in the direction of the previous Crow.

9 03 42 But when sentinel passes over the stick pile a Crow is yet again sitting on the pile.  This time scanning the park.   And so we've circled around to a Crow in the stick pile where we started.

My my, if I'd looked out the window at 8:56AM and seen the Crow,  then gone about my business and looked out the window again, 7 minutes later,  at 9:03AM and seen the Crow.  I never would have known any of it had happened at all.

I'm not sure how this game is scored.  The Crows still hold the yard but the Blue Jays definitely get bragging rights for tweaking the Crows beaks.  

I'm calling it a draw.

Donegal Browne

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Goldie the Red-tail vs the Mob of Crows, Kale the Wonder Green, NYC Kestrels and a Look at a Preening Hummingbird

 The sound of crows calling to each other, from numerous directions, was so loud it penetrated into the house even with the windows closed.    I ran outside.  

Far, far, far to the north, so far to the north in fact I couldn't get a focus from the camera, Goldie the Red-tailed Hawk was flying above a Crow.

Allow me to regress for a moment.  Crows are heavy bodied slow flying birds with a good bit of brains but not particularly sharp beaks or toenails so they use various and sometimes quite clever communal protection strategies. 

Now back to the action.
The Crow heads for the trees

 The Crow disappears into the foliage where, likely, numerous Crows are waiting to mob hawk.  Goldie, also likely, has seen this one before, so doesn't fall for it and heads the other direction.
There is loud cawing behind me and five Crows come blazing, well the Crow version of blazing,  over my head and aim for  Goldie. Goldie has turned and the first Crow appears as well.
Goldie of course has far more speed and maneuverability than the Crows so when she zips towards a Crow, it turns and flaps off while it's cohorts go for Goldie from behind.  At this point two Crows have taken refuge in the  trees.

The hawk does kind of  back flip soar and is now chasing the Crows who were chasing her from the east.

She now has everyone on the run EXCEPT the Crow which is a kind of sentinel who has been watching the action from above. (Up left corner of photo) 

I suspect that Crow would join the fray if one of the others is actually having difficulty with the hawk.

Here comes Goldie!

Now that you have the basic gist, watch for the variations.
And she now has the height advantage and the Crow under her better watch it.

Now there are six Crows in the skirmish.
Now there are seven and if you look carefully low and slightly right of center another smaller bird has joined in.

Goldie evades by going toward the Crows. (One Crow out of frame.)

Crows scatter.  Sentinel Crow out of frame up left.

Goldie is center.

Blogger has had enough of loading pix for some reason this evening so Goldie and the Crows will be continued.  Scroll down for the second half of today's post which was loaded earlier.

No, this isn't a mini palm tree.  

It is Kale the wonder plant!   

A highly flavored curly green which managed to ignore the great Midwestern drought.  The leaf lettuce and spinach withered.  It ignored the insect infestations that took out the Swiss Chard.  The Irish mixed it with mashed potatoes and other cultures found other ways to love this leafy green. 

 It may not be everyone's cup of tea but the nutrition can't be beat and it isn't easy to kill.  

Besides as you harvest periodically from the bottom up, you too, can have "mini-palm trees" in your garden.

 The broccoli buds have burst and the bees are out in force today.

And from New York City...
 Photo courtesy of

It is such a treat to see Kestrels going about their Kestrel business.  According to James O'Brien, this brother and sister team is hunting grasshoppers.   

The population of Kestrels has plummeted in most parts of the country, but they have found a way to live in urban areas thank goodness.

Next up, in case you missed it in the comments section, Karen Anne Kolling of RI, she of the Gonzo Deck, found some photos on the web of a Hummingbird preening in regards to my ponderings on how they preen with a beak like that, on the post-

Contact the New Head of NYC Parks Department, Bomber the Hummingbird, Quicksilver, Pyewacket, and the Spaghetti"

 Here is the link of the male Ruby-throat preening.  Karen Anne suggests you scroll down a few...

Donegal Browne

Sunday, September 23, 2012

PART 2 of Bomber the Hummingbird, Quicksilver, Pyewacket and the Spaghetti, Plus a Saturday Miscellany Which Includes a Link to Filmmaker Adam Welz' Wild New York

We pick up today's episode of The Adventures of Bomber the Hummingbird, Quicksilver, Pyewacket, and the Spaghetti,  where we left off,  with Pye bearing down on Silver over the spaghetti  plate.

 Silver goes into aggression mode, no nose touching for him.  Eyes flashing, (His pupils go from large to small and back again repeatedly.) He stands his feathers on end while taking an aggressive posture which often is the prelude to his leaping precipitously at the object of his attentions, beak open and wings flapping.

Trust me. It's scary.

Pye must think so too because she pulls her head back.  Silver glares, legs braced.  It's a stand off over the spaghetti plate.
 Pye bends right and slowly comes around the other way toward Silver.  Silver has had enough and gives me the just- when-are-you-going-to-tell-the-CAT-to-get-off-the-table look.

Let me give you the larger view of the expression so you'll recognize it if it ever happens to you.
I don't want him leaping at me in disgust,  so I say "Pye" quietly and as she knows she isn't supposed to be on the table,  and actually cares that I disapprove, starts moving toward the edge.

Just to prove she is no pussy, Pye does a little playful feint of a scamper towards the parrot.  Not the least unnerved, both knew this wasn't the least bit serious...
Silver gets back to eating as Pyewacket heads off the table into a chair.
 Once in the chair, Pye stops short and appears to stare fixedly at "something" out of our view.  Silver considers walking over and looking over the edge but he's fallen for that one before and restrains himself, taking another bite.
Pyewacket settles down at the patio door for a session of birdwatching, Quicksilver keeps eating, and if you look carefully you'll see Bomber the Hummingbird facing out waiting for another session of Hummingbird aggression.
She rouses her feathers and gives her wings a few flicks.
 When I look again, Bomber has gone missing.  I go to the door to see if she has taken up her station in the Maple tree, and a little dry, cracked voice says, "Fresh water."
 Silver says it again in the same dried up old voice.  Where he learned to say fresh water, like some old heat crazed prospector who's gone without water for a month, in say, "Treasure of the Sierra Madres", I'll never know.

But it is hilarious.  No doubt the reason he keeps it.

Next up.... 

 In case you missed it in the comments section, anti-rodenticide progress watcher Sally of Kentucky sends a story of an enlightened town--

 South African film maker Adam Welz did a piece for South African Television, Wild New York, about the NYC hawks and hawkwatchers.  Originally it was part of a series chronicling The Healing Power of Nature on South African television and later did well at film festivals.

When the film screened at a festival nearby, Adam and I teamed up again as part of a panel discussing pressing wildlife issues.

Director Welz has now made Wild New York available for viewing online in order, he hopes, to procure the wherewithal, as in artistic clout, name recognition, and angels in order to do his next film. Which let me add he feels very strongly should be made in order to get the word out about a tragic situation of humans vs wildlife which continues today and without any publicity to speak of.  

Adam's next film will chronicle the conflict caused by human farming infiltration into previously untrammeled wildlife territory which has caused the tragic killing of many, many lions.  

 To see Wild New York click the link below!

And Betty Jo McDonald invites us all to sign the petition to stop the killing of whales in the Faroe Islands

Donegal Browne