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Posts Tagged ‘blackbirds’

“If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.” – Charles Lindbergh

I agree with Lindbergh. Yes, airplanes make long distance traveling easier, but for me, birds make my life richer. And today, the loud and comical antics of the crows made me smile. Then, I read this article about crows which is somewhat disturbing: 6 Terrifying Ways Crows are Way Smarter than You Think.

IMG_2395 The first way they list (actually #6 since they’re listing in reverse order): “The recognize your face.” This is true. When I lug the bread crumbs or seed or suet out to the birds, the watch-crow starts cawing, bobbing his/her head, and ruffling its feathers. Sure enough, within minutes, the rest of the crow family (or “murder” as a group of crows is called), arrive to feast upon whatever I’ve scattered about.

Which brings me to #5, “They conspire with one another.” True! If the watch-crow isn’t enough proof, the crows have shown excellent skill in chasing away squirrels.

#4 is “Memory.” As if facial recognition wasn’t spooky enough, it seems word gets around in the blackbird (I’m changing it from just crows here). Why? Word has gotten out in the red-winged blackbird, starling, crow, and bird communities that I feed birds. Every year, a migrating flock of hundreds (if not thousands) of blackbirds stops at my feeder for a few days each spring and fall before moving on to wherever it is they’re headed.

I witnessed #3 “Tools and problem-solving,” when I was in Anchorage, Alaska. A raven (larger cousin of a crow) was busily prying open a sun roof to get to someone’s groceries. He/she was using not only beak and feet, but also a stick. Clever bird!

#2, “Planning,” includes saving food for lean times and other thoughtful techniques. I’ve not witnessed that behavior (to my knowledge, but crows are tricky), but the whole watch-crow business seems like planning to me.

The #1 way listed in the article was “Adaptive behavior.” Well, knowing to check on sun roofs on cars seems rather adaptive to me, but the best example from my own life occurred years ago when we had a sliding glass door through which I used to exit to feed the birds. If the feeders were empty and I didn’t fill them promptly, a designated crow would come to the door and “knock.” The bird would fly to the porch railing or a nearby tree to caw his/her empty feeder alert. When I opened the door, the rest of the murder would alight in the trees and wait for their food to be served.

My kids say it looks like a scene from “The Birds” sometimes at my house. And it’s not just the crows —  blackbirds, starlings, chickadees, cardinals, jays, morning doves, etc. ALL seem to know my face, and fly close when I bring out the chow.

 

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young robin Wood’s Edge seems to be forever white and icy this year. Just when I thought I saw grass, more ice and snow arrived. The heather beneath the front window made a valiant attempt at blooming last week, but its purplish blossoms were encased in ice, and I fear they’ll not flower again.

Though white themselves, the snowdrops usually make an appearance in late February or early March. Alas, I don’t think they’ll be able to poke their pale heads through the thick layer of ice on top of the inches of snow this year. Still I hope to spot their delicate blooms.

Hundreds of blackbirds descend daily to my birdfeeders and quickly empty its contents. Their loud chirping and astounding numbers chase away the blue jays, cardinals, finch, and woodpeckers who add just a bit of color to the white and brown landscape.

This winter, eight deer regularly wander through the woods and into my yard. As they browse the underbrush, their fur shines a golden brown when the late afternoon sun slants through the tulip poplars.

Still, my world seems colorless as children with their bright jackets, mittens, boots, and hats sled briefly, then go inside on such wet, slippery, cold days. And so, I turn to John Steinbeck for a cheering quote.

“How can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?” – John Steinbeck

How right he is! The bitter cold of this winter will make me appreciate the warmth of late spring and summer. And I would hardly notice the small heather blooms, nodding snowdrops, the brilliant patch of red on a woodpecker, the beautiful brown of a deer’s fur, or the brilliant blue of a hooded jacket in the lush green of June.

And for a writer on this bitter day, the arrival of an acceptance letter is all the sweeter because many rejection letters have preceded it.

 

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Last night’s win was a great beginning to the football season for Ray Lewis and his team mates. And shouts of “Ravens Rule” could be heard around my neighborhood.

As for me, I was born & raised in Maryland. First a Baltimore Colts fan, I’m now a Baltimore Ravens fan. It’s easy: I love purple & black. Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favorite writers. (I’ve even visited his grave on Halloween!) A bird-lover, I feed the black birds, crows & ravens who visit my yard. And most of my family members are Ravens watchers and fans, too.

 Autumn has also started off well for ravens lovers of the reader type. Emg-Zine, an online fantasy & science fiction magazine has made September 2010 – Ravens Month. You can find raven-themed art, stories, and poems on their site. Now before you football folks go crazy – these pieces have to do with the black-feathered bird, not the lads in the purple jerseys.

Though I have written a raven poem about Edgar Allen Poe and the football team, my poem published in the September 2010 Emg-Zine issue is about the bird and a Baltimore autumn. I invite you to enjoy it & the rest of the issue for free: http://tinyurl.com/vonnie-raven  And I invite you to cheer on Baltimore’s hometown team this fall as they fight to make the play-offs.

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