It’s that time of year again.
Most of the local crows seem to have suddenly become enrolled in some sort of corvid witness protection program.
The normally gregarious garden visitors, and dog-walk-followers, are suddenly either absent altogether, or shifty and secretive.
It’s nesting time, and I’m resigned to not seeing so much of Marvin and Mavis and the others until later in the summer when, if we’re lucky, they’ll come back to show off their offspring.
But I don’t give up on watching crows for these few months.
Instead I watch for the calligraphy in the sky.
The crows start to exist in my consciousness as quick brushstrokes, furtively flitting by with tell-tale beak attachments.
The latest cargo for the nest in the poplar trees has been grass, leading me to believe that we’re at the finishing, soft furnishings, stage of construction.
There are only a few short days to gather clues as to who’s nesting where. Just now, the trees aren’t quite leafed out, and the nests under construction are still visible.
But the crows are smart and have tactics to confuse.
I believe it’s Eric and Clara who are building in the poplars and they have at least two nests on the go. I imagine they will decide which of the two to inhabit (or perhaps they have a third that I haven’t spotted at all) once the leaves give them full camouflage.
It’s a bit of a mystery/thriller, illustrated with simple silhouettes.
There are characters other than crows in this year’s storyline. Ravens have decided to try the charms of city living in our neighbourhood this year.
I’m thrilled. The crows are considerably less happy. Ravens will steal eggs from the their nests, so they’re on the “naughty” list, along with eagles, hawks, racoons etc.
As such they are mobbed relentlessly, making for a very busy crow spring.
Not only must nests be built – but ravens must be energetically harassed from dawn to dusk.
Sometimes, it all just gets too much for the tired corvids.
One day last week I watched this raven in a tree, surrounded for about twenty minutes by a harmonious crowd of crows.
One crow even seemed to getting very close – perhaps trying for a diplomatic detente.
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For a moment it seemed that a crow/raven understanding might be reached …
… but talks broke off and hostilities resumed. I guess the crows were just taking a much-needed breather.
So, at this time of year, keep an eye on the sky for calligraphic messages from the crow world. You might just learn where it’s going to be best to avoid (or at least to use an umbrella when walking by) later in the season.
See Dive Bombed by Crows! for more on this …