Thursday, April 05, 2018

Unpopular Crow Dies Savagely

The crows are absent (West Nile Virus?). They drove out the pigeons, but what will replace them. Saw a lone, young crow on the telephone wire yesterday. A blue jay was harassing it. There were multitudes in my urban neighborhood in 2009 (see below). Where have the crows gone?

A crow's caw is discordant, but part of our neighborhood backdrop, and easy to ignore. Just now, they set up a racket, the kind that usually heralds their spotting some tasty dog kibble left in the backyard, but this time it was more riotous than usual and was accompanied by a great beating of their wings.

They are big birds and some of them have a 3-foot wing span so if a few of them are together they manage to pound the air and stir things up. A panicked, pleading sound underlay this display, almost like that of puppy being tortured, yet more avian than canine. It was pitiful enough for me to put down my laptop and go investigate.

At first I thought the crows were going after a more mundane bird, but it was one of their own. A giant crow, glossy-black and commanding, was attacking a smaller crow. He was accompanied by three henchmen, and oddly, a bluejay.

The victim flew off, crying and begging, and the others followed. They circled back and the smaller crow tried to move into deeper tree foliage. The bigger one swooped in hard with a premeditated body blow and knocked it off its perch. Then, all of them took turns swooping down on it. It happened so fast and with such a flurry of wings that I couldn't tell for sure if it was being pecked. It managed to right itself and fly off again followed by the crowhood.

The boss's calls were louder than the others and angry, definitely not a dog kibble caw.

They circled back. The blue jay landed on a telephone wire to observe the proceedings. He didn't do any attacking, but still this was crow business, was he crazy?

I tried to keep still, but they simultaneously cocked their heads in my direction. I quickly calculated how fast I could get inside the house (damn you, Alfred Hitchcock!) They flew off into another yard, but I could hear the attack continuing.

What did the smaller, presumably younger, crow do to deserve this punishment?