Friday, May 3, 2013

I Love The Corvids

About 15 years ago as I was pulling into my driveway on an unusual kind of windy day- it was very strong 'gusty' wind and it seemed to have a mind of it's own as it changed directions unexpectedly every few moments. I looked down the street to see about 25 crows being tossed around in the air at the level of the tree tops. At first I thought that the wind was so strong they were struggling, but it soon became apparent that they were in total control. They would leap off of the branches of the trees and leave their wings relaxed as the gusts pushed them on a short but wild ride. A split second before they would crash into a tree (or another crow...), they would cut out of the current and find a place to start it all over again.

I sat on the bumper of my car and watched them for about half of an hour. It wasn't long before I realized they were just having fun.

How silly, I thought. That is exactly what I would be doing if I had wings!

That spring I realized the gang of crows in my neighborhood was actually comprised of family groups. I watched as the whole family fed and 'babysat' that years hatch-lings. It seemed like those chicks stayed dependent for the entire summer! They grew so large so quickly that soon I couldn't tell them from the adults except that they cried to be fed CONSTANTLY. They would not even TRY to feed themselves even though they were as big as Saint Bernards. Every adult in the group accommodated and feed them even though they had to stand on their tippy-toes to do it!

The next year when I saw the new babies, I noticed there seemed to be something wrong with one of them. It took me a couple of days to get a good look and see that the little guy was unable to stand on his feet and was walking on his elbows (I think those are elbows!). Anyway, he was obviously not able to move around like the other baby, but the whole family kept hunting for and shoving food down his little gullet as though nothing was amiss.

It was at that moment I decided to help out with shelled walnuts and moist kibble. I would toss them up on the roof of the tack room next door and immediately all the 'care-givers' were gathering them up and stuffing them into both babies ( keeping some for themselves!). Soon the babies were parked on the tack room roof and the whole family would wait for me to toss out breakfast in the morning.

By the end of the summer, both babies were 100% and since that time I have always helped with the groceries when the babies come.

They never forget and show up like clockwork in the spring. (I really do love them!)

P.S. Here is a photo of a White-throated Magpie-Jay. He is also in the corvid family and one of these beauties builds a nest every year on the Warner Brother's lot in Burbank. I called the Audubon Society when I spotted him and they said there is probably a small breeding population in the area (escaped captives most likely...). In this photo, the bird looks almost grey, but in real life the blue from his feathers was so vivid it exploded my optic nerves.


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