I’ve been thinking a lot about crow calls after being obliged to make my own rather terrible approximation of one last week — on CBC radio no less! I made an attempt at the most common of crow calls — your basic “caw!”
There are, of course, many more linguistic arrows in the corvid quiver — from their lovely gentle “rattle” to the sharp barking alarm call warning of eagles or other aerial danger.
I’ve written quite a few posts about the amazing language of ravens, but crows have some expressive surprises up their feathery sleeves as well.
In fact, just yesterday I heard one of the local crows making a new call.
It sounded rather like “boing,” but I think it may have been a crow version of the beeping sound of a reversing truck. Due to the huge amount of construction our neighbourhood has seen over the past three years, this noise may have been an influential soundscape element for this crow’s formative years!
This next crow lives near some urban backyard chickens and I think I detect a bit of a clucking overtone to their caw.
Finally, White Wing stole the show last spring with her dog woofing with really impressive cat meow finale.
So, if there is ever another occasion when I’m asked to do a crow impersonation, maybe I’ll go for one of these!
The crow nesting season goes through various phases, some quiet, others much louder.
Right now we’re in a seemingly tranquil phase
All is secretive and low key as the parents try to keep the nest locations hidden from predators. Sometimes the game is given away when the female, sitting on the eggs, makes begging sounds to remind their mate to hurry up with the food delivery, but generally it’s as if the whole neighbourhood is made up entirely of of very quiet bachelor crows.
Marvin going solo while Mavis sits on the eggs, spring 2022
The mother crow will remain on the nest, incubating 2-6 eggs, for between two and three weeks. Once the eggs hatch, both parents will leave and return to the nest frequently to bring food. Another parental duty is carrying away the babies’ fecal sacs to keep the nest clean. A sure sign of hatched babies is seeing a poop-splattered adult crow — evidence of one of those sacs having failed in the disposal process. The love of a parent truly knows no bounds …
Mr. Walker on dad duty, Spring 2022
This is, of course, the calm before the storm. Soon things will start to get more exciting as dive bombing season begins.
This is such an issue in Vancouver that, a few years back, a Langara College professor created an open-source Geographic Information System called Crowtrax, allowing people to report where they were attacked by crows and thus contribute to a map of the most “crow-terrrorized” parts of the city.
I’m happy to report that there’s been a positive change in the way this part of the crow nesting season in covered by the local media over the past few years. It used to be all Hitchockian horror, with eyeball grabbing headlines about “savage” crows swooping from the sky and randomly mauling innocent pedestrians. In recent times there has been more curiosity about what’s really happening here, and much more thoughtful pieces have been written.
Last year, Georgia Strait reporter, Martin Dunphy, wrote such an article and one of my images was on the front cover.
The article included comments from Vancouver crow scientist, Rob Butler, and myself and was a refreshingly pro-crow look what can be a slightly hysterical time of year.
I have some tips on avoiding getting dive-bombed this year, but first of all it’s helpful understand what’s going on from the crows’ perspective.
The crow parents have been working on this nest since late February, carefully building it, sitting on eggs in secret, carrying bags of baby poop hither and yon, fighting off hawks, raccoons, cats and eagles. They are tired, stressed to the max, and very, very committed to the success of their little families. Now the precious babies are about the leave the relative security of the nest.
These “babies” are almost the same size as the parents at this point, so some people don’t even notice that they’re not adult crows. Sometimes they’re difficult to spot at all as they rest on the ground, camouflaged with dust and leaf litter. They’re often earthbound because, in what seems to be a bit of a design flaw, they come out of the nest before they can fly.
The young crows are curious and eager to explore, but have no idea what might be fun as opposed to fatal. The only things standing between the helpless fledglings and getting stepped on, run over or attacked by animals or birds of prey are good old mom and dad. These exhausted and very tense parents and are the “savage” dive bombers — and it’s really nothing personal, they just want you to STAY AWAY from their precious offspring until they can fly.
In my experience, sometimes the raucous cawing isn’t even directed at us humans. Often they seem to be screaming instructions at their fledging and/or making a lot of racket just to drown out the baby crow noises that might attract real predators.
So try to remember, you’re not in a Hitchcock movie — just a small domestic drama.
TIPS FOR KEEPING YOURSELF AND THE CROWS SAFE
Avoiding the nest area if possible.
If you can’t stay clear, wear a hat or use an umbrella when you walk by.
Try pinning fake eyes (paper drawings, or make some with felt) on the back of your hat or hood. Crows only attack from the rear and if they see a pair of eyes “looking” at them they won’t swoop — according to Seattle crow scientist John Marzluff.
Earn some trust with a small offering of unsalted peanuts. Not a big pile — just 3 or 4 peanuts as a gesture of friendliness.
This might just be me, but I always speak softly to the parents and tell them what a great job they’re doing.
If you see a crow fledgling alone on the ground, don’t assume it needs rescuing. There will be a parent crow nearby watching over things and, unless the baby is obviously injured, it’s always best to leave it alone.
This following little diagram is something I put together years ago as an easy guide to telling fledgling crows apart from adults …
Once the baby crows are able to fly the parents will become a lot more relaxed and spend a lot of time feeding, grooming and showing the young ones the ropes of being a successful city crow.
Spending time watching this process will reward you with many laughs as you see yourself reflected in the behaviour of the parents, kids, or both.
“Wherever you go, there you are” was just one of my mother’s vast repertoire of Handy Sayings For All Occasions.
It sounded a bit eye roll inducing when I was young, but gets increasingly profound as I age.
Which brings me to travel.
Most of my journeys, especially over the past two years, have been of the internal variety, moving from one state to another. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly.
We’re all confined our own little vessels, one way or another.
This has limitations and does take a toll — leaving us at the mercy of time, wind, rain and whatever passing reflections come to visit.
Things become worn and begin to fall apart.
Colours fade — but then others become richer and more transparent.
I’ve always had a fondness for travelling in place, perhaps dating back to the time I lived alone in my little cabin.
My studies of bowls in the garden are like small, eagerly anticipated, annual journeys.
I love the hellebore bowls in spring, which are always beautiful when first arranged, but often become far more interesting when left to their own devices — week after week, or even month after month.
Some of the images here are of the glass bowl hellebores from last week’s post, left to drown in a week of heavy rain since then. Others are one of last year’s collections, left in the garden to make their fading journey from March until May 2021.
Each fall there’s always the adventure of the gazing bowl to look forward to. Starting off as a rather pedestrian dog’s water bowl in September … by late November, who knows where it might have taken me?
I believe that my interest in watching the crows in my neighbourhood falls into the same category of static travel— spending so much time watching, not just a single bird species, but actually the same individual birds, year after year, is a bit like gazing into a solitary bowl.
It never gets boring.
The longer you look, the more ways of seeing you find.
The crow world is also full of reflections — yourself reflected in the eyes of the birds is the simple version. It becomes a hall of mirrors as you consider the infinity of crow reflections, real and imaginary, in the looking glass of your own eye and brain.
So there you have it: the future of modern travel lies with crows, reflections, faded foliage, and is always far more about the journey than the destination.
I’m sorry I haven’t been posting a lot here lately.
This is partly because, like everyone else, I’m struggling with the enormity of what’s going on in the world.
Also, I’m finally, finally making a little progress with my book about crows, and I need to keep my head involved in that as much as I possibly can.
These two things are still standing in my way— but I thought I could at least send you a few flowers.
I traditionally post images of some of the early blooming hellebores in my garden on social media around this time of year — offering a little hope of spring around the corner. They are always displayed in a little green vintage bowl I picked up at a thrift shop many years ago.
Today, however, I suddenly felt that this bowl was no longer big enough for all the good wishes I needed to send, so I took myself off to my local thrift store especially to find a bigger vessel.
I found a big, beautiful, shallow glass bowl that was just perfect.
So here, just for you …
As I was photographing the bowl from different angles, the flowers kind of reminded me of a party … remember those?
Everyone all dressed up …
All the different types of people you might meet in a big gathering of strangers …
How you might hesitate and try to decide who looks most approachable in the crowd …
Colour, joy, friends, love, festivity … wishing us all more of these.
I started to write this post about my song sparrow friends last week, but then world events, already dark, turned even more grim and made writing about small birds seem ridiculous.
Now I’m back to thinking that small things are sometimes the best subjects to hang onto at certain times. Also, their tiny determination seems somehow even more appropriate at this moment.
While Ben (the crow with broken foot I wrote about last time) is always the first crow to greet me in the morning, the very first birds there, every single day, are the song sparrows. Half a dozen or so seem to be in our garden at all times — more reliable companions than any other birds this winter.
Song sparrow on his favourite perch, as close as possible to the back deck..
The trees begin to rustle as soon as I open the door and small, drab, brown shapes emerge. At first it looks as if sad winter leaves are being blown loose, but it’s always the song sparrow gang.
They see the crows gathering but they always dive in fearlessly first, grabbing at least one peanut each before melting swiftly and seamlessly back into the foliage.
I always cheer them on.
And when I said they were drab — that is ONLY upon the most cursory of glances. Give these birds a single moment of inspection and it’s obvious that they’re one of nature’s more complicated works of art — and all created with a palette of infinitely varied browns, creams and a touch of pearl grey.
I’ve been spending time making simple bird figures by needle felting wool. Mostly it’s just an excuse to relieve stress and spend more time thinking about birds, but it’s also practice in noticing things about them that I might not properly see when photographing them. When I look at the intricacy of a song sparrow from the point of view of trying to reproduce it I am both defeated and filled with joy at their modest and complex beauty.
A pair of needle felted Mountain Bluebirds.
I have reference binder of my own photos to work from, and so far I’ve tackled rudimentary versions of bushtits, chickadees, a spotted towhee, a ruby crowned kinglet, mountain bluebirds and a whiskey jack — but, honestly, I don’t think I know where to start with the quiet but infinitely elaborate patterns in a song sparrow!
Song Sparrow with an acorn cup
While the feather markings seems truly daunting, I’d love to have a go at the facial expression of a song sparrow. They have, I would submit, the very best “judgemental” faces of all the small birds.
Midweek brought terrible news from Europe, and also a skiff of snow here.
That morning the sparrows left some cryptic messages. They looked like a combination of frost patterns and a more intentional series of documents in a forgotten script.
So many big and very small things to think about these last few days and, as usual, no real wisdom to be found aside from trying to find wonder where and when we can.
Last week I wrote a post on social media about Ben, the crow with a bent foot, in which I mentioned that Marvin and Mavis seem to allow him to get first dibs on the nuts and kibble I put out in the morning.
I immediately started to worry that I’d over-sentimentalized their behaviour.
Crows, much as I love them, are not generally known for their charitable works.
It’s true that they’re extremely loyal to their family members (see George and Mabel: A Love Story.) At night they’re very co-operative and social when they come together at the roost for mutual protection, information and general fun.
But, during the day, crows stick pretty closely to their own territory — usually half a city block or so — and defend it against other crow visitors.
So why do Marvin and Mavis put up with Ben’s intrusions? I have a couple of theories, none of which include pure crow altruism on their part.
But first, the story of Ben, as far as I know it.
I noticed him last spring when he started following me on dog walks. I assumed he must be a local crow with a recently sustained injury, as I’m sure I’d have noticed his badly deformed foot if he’d been like this for a while.
He would pop up on my walks and, while doing my best to avoid conflict with other crows, I’d try to slip him a few peanuts.
As BC’s terrible fall weather made international news, with floods and even a small hurricane, I worried about all the birds — but especially Ben.
I could imagine him out there, clamped to a branch with only one functional claw while the rest of him was flung about in the gales.
Sometimes I wouldn’t see him for a few days after a big storm and I’d think he’d been swept away, but then there he’d be again.
That one good foot must be extra, extra strong.
By then he’d started showing up at my house. I think his territory is a block or so away, but he must have a line of sight to see when I first poke my head out of the back door in the morning.
A picture of Ben looking at me from the roof early one wet morning became the print, Frazzled 2/Too.
The fact that Ben was now showing up for peanuts in Marvin and Mavis’s territory was a further breach of Peanut Diplomacy protocol.
But that face … what to do?
So, back to my theories of why Marvin and Mavis seem to have come to terms with Ben’s visits.
Theory One: Crows Are Trainable
I decided to see if I could try keep both Ben and M&M happy by trying my hand at some rudimentary crow training techniques. I mean, not much else was going on, so why not?
Ben’s great advantage is that he’s willing to come for snacks while I’m still standing nearby. Like other crows with injuries (e.g. George Brokenbeak) the risk/ benefit calculation of getting close to people shifts more into the “worth the risk” side of the ledger as it gets harder for them to get their own food.
I decided to use this fearlessness “superpower” in Ben’s favour.
When the snacks go out in the morning, several sets of crow eyes are watching. Marvin or Mavis usually sound the breakfast call from their favourite Hydro pole.
Normally M & M would immediate swoop in and summarily scatter the competition — but I found if I stood right beside the peanuts and fixed them with a stern look and said “wait” in my best dog training voice, it bought Ben and his mate time to stuff a few peanuts and kibble in their beaks and take off.
After a couple of weeks of this everybody seemed to have got the hang of things.
Occasionally a tail tweak from Mavis is needed to reinforce the “taking turns” etiquette, but generally Ben and friend seem to know when their time is up.
Theory Two: Not Worth the Hassle
Another risk/benefit calculation, this time on the part of Marvin and Mavis, might be further explanation for their forbearance.
In spite of his limping gait, Ben is fierce. If attacked by other crows I’ve seen him respond with impressive force. Perhaps Marvin and Mavis, knowing their food supply is generally secure, figure it’s not worth the risk to life and wing to take him on.
The M’s know, after all, that they can always come back later in the day, when things are less competitive, for a quiet visit and some extra peanuts.
Both theories, I guess, boil down to “crows are smart,” which is hardly news. I do know that I’ve spent countless hours watching crows, and the one thing I’ve learned is that they always have another surprise tucked up their wing feathers.
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on how Ben makes out, and how long we can keep the Golden Age of Breakfast Co-operation going.
As you probably know, I normally just post aboutbirds on my blog and on social media.
My aim is to share my love for ravens, crows, and other birds — but I also hope to convey, through my portraits, a feeling of empathy.
I like to think that the feeling of kinship with another species will spill over into similar feeling for our fellow humans, however different their life experiences may be from our own.
Yesterday I stuck my head over the social media parapet to express how sad and worried I feel about some of the things happening as part of the “Freedom Convoy” currently demonstrating in Ottawa.
Many people felt the same, but others disagreed heartily. One commenter felt it was inappropriate for me to express my political views on my Facebook page.
I do generally try to stay away from politics, trying mostly to share the beauty and humour I see in my subject matter, and give people a respite from the more stressful areas of social media.
However, sometimes it feels that just posting pretty pictures of birds is not enough.
I feel a real connection with the birds I photograph and — I hope it goes without saying — with my fellow humans, many of whom have had a very rough time through Covid.
What makes me so sad and worried about the “Freedom Convoy” is that is has gotten very far away from a protest by some truck drivers angered by a new cross-border vaccine mandate affecting their industry. It has been co-opted to a large extent by groups with far more extreme goals and intimidating tactics.
It’s important that we feel empathy for truck drivers who have been working hard to keep us all supplied with the things we need through some very tough times — but it’s equally important to feel the same sympathy for:
the exhausted and often abused nurses and doctors working through the pandemic
the front line workers forced to confront angry people as they go about their often low paying service jobs
the teachers and school staff struggling to provide children with some sense of normalcy and to keep everyone safe at the same time
people with underlying health conditions (and their caregivers) whose lives are far more affected by Covid than most of us
those in Ottawa unable to get around, or get sufficient sleep, due to the ongoing disruptions there
people who have been intimidated by some elements among the demonstrators
those who feel indirectly, but realistically, threatened by the very presence of swastikas, Confederate flags and Pure Blood t-shirts on blatant display
journalists who have been trolled in threatening ways on social media and in real life for doing their jobs
The list could go on …
I lead a pretty privileged life, and I’m chilled to the bone by what I’ve seen and read over the last few days, so I can only imagine how those in the direct far-right line of fire must feel seeing these things.
So, I just felt I had to say something yesterday.And again today.
I had to say THIS IS NOT OK, just in case, by my silence, anyone might think I believe that all is well as long as we just gaze at lovely birds.
I believe a huge majority of people in Canada are far from OK with it and that we need to say so, even if it’s not what we usually do.
Respectfully, if you find this post too political I will be fine if you decide you don’t want to follow my blog or posts any more — or you can just stay tuned for more crows and ravens and empathy.
So here we go, resuming normal programming with some pictures of ravens — some in fog and some in sunshine.
The peace of wild things has been so very much needed over the past weeks and months. Years.
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
It can be hard to chisel those precious nuggets of joy from the daunting and somewhat featureless rock face of pandemic living —and there’s certainly no shortage of things to wake us, clammy and panic stricken, in the night. In those sleepless hours, poetry and quiet prose is a wonderful solace (along with a cat on the lap, some medium-complicated knitting and a cup of Ovaltine.)
Going to lie down where the wood drake rests, however, remains less of an option for us city dwellers.
Luckily, nature is really is everywhere — even in the the cacophonous concrete city.
It’s so easy to miss it all among all the stresses and distractions of urban life —but this is where the crow rescue squad can help. Just pay them a little attention, and they will drag your attention (kicking and screaming, if necessary) to the Peace of Wild Things. Dammit.
Crows are wild things, but something … something … about them — their tight family units, that look in the eye, that tilt of the head — makes them feel like quite close relations.
It really doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch (trust me) to start having conversations with them.
Hey, Mabel — how’s the family? Got one of the kids home visiting I see.
Any sign of spring out there, Marvin and Mavis?
Again, I ask myself quietly, am I spending too much time with birds … ?
And I conclude: not possible. I’d happily spend a lot MORE time with birds!
In fact, every time a see any bird — crow, sparrow, hawk or bushtit, I feel a thrill.
Perhaps it’s because where I grew up, on the Quayside of the industrial Tyne River in Newcastle in 50’s and 60’s Britain, the only birds I saw were rooftop pigeons and distant gulls. (See: Birth Of An Urban Nature Enthusiast)
It seemed to me then that things like birds and trees and squirrels and grass were just for rich people — so that’s what makes spending time with crows and all the other birds lurking in my part of the city, feel like such luxury.
And why it feels as if having a crow rescue committee for darker days is wealth beyond compare, even if I don’t have anywhere to lie down with them.
Probably not such a good idea in any case, when it comes to crows …
Well, it turns out that one of the lesser known symptoms of COVID is the complete and utter inability to write blog posts.
Like many others, we had a rather Omicrummy Christmas as the virus raced through our household, and although triple-vaxxed, we were laid low for a couple of weeks.
Fortunately it’s been mainly just medium horrible cold and flu symptoms, overlaid with exhaustion and the need for many naps and lots of Advil.
Every day I’ve thought “must write a blog post’” . . . and every day I’ve taken the alternative route of flopping in my comfy chair and watching hours of TV. Even daytime TV was not off limits! Some desultory knitting or needle felting was completed in between naps.
Throughout this period there was a tiny, slightly more active, part of my brain just itching to write a blog post. Whenever I did get outside to walk the dog, or just stand in my dressing gown in the garden, there was bird inspiration everywhere — just begging to be shared.
It seems, however, that the COVID brain cannot process inspiration.
Also, complete sentences seemed like just . . . so . . . much . . . w — o — r — k
Yesterday, however, the bushtits decided enough was enough. A committee came, literally, to my back door to FORCE me to write about them.
In case you’re not familiar with these characters, bushtits are tiny, grey, determined and objectively adorable birds. See my previous post Consider the Bushtit for just some of the reasons why.
During the very cold weather we had over the holidays they came to the garden many times a day to visit the suet feeder.
I did manage to write a few short social media posts while I was sick and one of them was about the bushtits …
The rare sight of a lone bushtit.
They travel in close knit chattering charabanc tours of 20-30. The rest of the tour group was close by. I always wonder if one of them is the Rick Steves of the gang, pointing out the local attractions. “On our left we have the famous suet feeder — but be sure to step out of your comfort zone and try the exotic delights of the hummingbird feeder. Don’t miss the bugs up there on the maple. OK, time’s up … on to the next step on the tour … no laggards please.”
It is just possible that I am spending too much time with birds … 🤪
Of course, as many of you wisely pointed out, it is impossible to spend too much time with birds!
And here’s a photo of the tour group having a refreshment break at the hummingbird feeder.
Incidentally, I’d been wondering for a while why I kept losing the little yellow nectar covers on the hummingbird feeders until I noticed them lying in the snow after the bushtits had been by. How did they get them off? Again, see Consider the Bushtit to see how cleverly they can use their tiny claws.
So what could these birds have done yesterday that was even cuter and cleverer than all of this?
For context, the weeks of snow and icy slush have been replaced this week by yet another Atmospheric River, bringing relentless rain and grey skies. Not much inspiring to look at outside, but I just happened to glance outside of my back door window and did a double take. It looked like a scene from the old Cinderella cartoon of my childhood …
This is only a small portion of the whole group. By the time I got my phone out to video them, about two thirds of the crowd had moved on, but you can see that they were making themselves very cosy under our deck, taking advantage of the heated hummingbird feeder and arranging themselves on the big floral metal shelf as if it were a specially designed bushtit drying rack.
Bushtits drying out, and apparently napping.
As you can see, this was already too amazing not to write about, but there was more!
Check out the couple snuggling together in the next video. They were pressed so tightly together, and for so long, I worried that they’d got sugar water on themselves from the hummingbird feeder and become stuck!
Sorry the video and pictures aren’t the best quality. I was filming sometimes through the window and the shadow in some of the video is the door, open just a crack to stick a lens out.
While the whole group was heart stoppingly cute, this particular couple took the cake. This is one of the chief joys of watching birds. You may think you’ve seen all the amazing things about them.
But you never have!
The delicacy of their tiny, wet, translucent, slightly bedraggled tails …
I’m not sure if they are actually shivering here, as the weather was much milder than it’s been, or if it was part of their feather drying technique. Or perhaps they were just so excited to be together …
I imagine that the bushtit delegation was sent by the other birds to overcome my inertia by dint of sheer cuteness. Now that I’ve actually found where my keyboard is again, I hope I’ll be able to make some new posts about some of the other amazing birds that stopped by over the last couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for what new and amazing things the bushtits have up their tiny feathery sleeves.
Sometimes, when everything is all just too much, it’s good to put your feet up and lose yourself in the flickering warmth of the TV yule log.
Should the hypnotically dancing flames start to lose their allure, I have a modest alternative for your viewing pleasure — soothing moments from nature on my YouTube Channel.
I’ve had a YouTube channel for ages (how passé, I know, TikTok etc) and still don’t really know how it works, but I’ve recently added a bunch of videos just so it’s a single stop easy destination for those who want to zone out for a bit with some of my collection of nature videos.
On offer we have a range of programming — including the ever-soothing ravens goofing around in the snow.
Suggested beverage to watch with this series — a nice steaming mug of hot chocolate. Don’t stint on the marshmallows.
For something a little more meditative, we have the “Gazing Bowl In Quiet Rain.” Best enjoyed with a mint tea.
If you need a burst of energy, try “Northern Flickers Having a Lively Conversation,” accompanied with a strong espresso.
You’ll find a ton of other things to keep you entertained on there, from a crow making barking and miaowing sounds, to a raven listening to their own echo. I’ve started to put some things into Playlists to make things easier to find, but ran out of time for now, so you may just have to wander around when you feel the need to escape. Just click on the second tab at the top of the YouTube page where it says Videos, and they will all appear for your distraction needs.
I’m not a videographer, but sometimes when I’m out taking photos I come across something that really needs video to convey the amazement. At those moments I switch the cameral to movie mode and do my best. I never have a tripod and I usually have at least one dog on a leash, so the quality is never going to be professional. Apologies in advance for the dodgy sound and random wobbles and lurches to left or right.
Some possible causes of technical difficulties …
Of course, the best thing to do when you feel you feel the need for nature is to head outside yourself. Whether it’s a hike in the woods, a scramble up a mountain or just a quick foray out of doors to say hi to the local crows, actual nature and real fresh air is always preferable — but circumstances can often conspire against such ventures. In these dire situations a few minutes spent with a crow parent and baby video might do the trick.
If you’d like to subscribe to my channel you’ll get notices when I post new videos.
Wishing you and yours a happy and peaceful holiday season with lots of birds and fresh air and laughs.