A raucous October has spilled over into a riotous November.
No, I’m not talking about the political landscape, just the local crows.
I’m planning to write some individual updates for my various crow acquaintances, but this post is more an overview of the current crow atmosphere.
October is always pretty wild, in a “woohoo the kids are self-sufficient and there are nuts and berries to harvest” sort of way. See last year’s post —Corvid Flash Mobs — for a taste. Usually things quieten down once the nuts and fruit are all consumed, but this year things seem to remain tense on the territorial front.
Almost every crow I come across has an eye to the sky.
Sometimes it’s a well-recognized crow-foe that has them on edge. We’ve had groups of young bald eagles, a Northern Harrier and the occasional raven causing crow alarms.
But the most common cause of crow nerves this fall seems to be other crows.
This fall has been particularly fractious on the crow territorial boundary fronts.
In the city, each half a block or so “belongs” to a crow family and, once the corvid Octoberfest is over, these boundaries are generally respected . Not this year.
I wonder if it’s because so many crow couples this spring didn’t succeed in raising any young ones, so they’re pressed by neighbouring crows who have extra offspring sticking around. Partly these new crows just don’t seem familiar with the “rules” and also they need more space for foraging. Eventually they’ll probably find a mate of their own and carve out their own territory, but in the mean time lots of them are still hanging out with mom and dad.
Marvin and Mavis lost their nestlings to an eagle this year and they have Mabel’s growing family on one side and young Ada and her parents on the other. Since our house is part of M & M’s territory, I get to see their efforts to repel “invaders” on an almost daily basis.
In this case, there was a lot of cawing and raised head feathers, but no actual hostilities broke out.
Meanwhile, on the Northwestern front, Marvin and Mavis face incursions by the lovely baby Ada and her family. Constant vigilance, and much cawing, is required.
This morning, for example, saw a rather spectacular series of skirmishes in the borderlands.
One minute you’re just sitting, minding your own business and enjoying the view from a nice rotting old washing line post …
For all the flapping and pecking and pushing, no-one was injured and everyone flew off to their respective territories, ready to tussle another day.
I see Marvin and Mavis’s predicament repeated around the neighbourhood with borders being tested every day. Since the dog and I, on our walks, tend to be regarded as “territory on the move,” I’m being careful not to ignite peanut-driven civil war. This means few peanuts, dropped discretely and far from boundaries. Even then, I’m finding myself being followed by the new generation of roving crows.
Stay tuned for more detailed individual updates on Marvin and Mavis, Mabel and Gus, the Pants Family, Ada and the Slocan Trio.
In the meantime, keep your eyes open for those short-lived, but very dramatic, territorial sky squabbles.
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