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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Spying on the Neighbors

There were plumbing problems at work this morning, so I got to work from home. While eating lunch, I noticed that my crow neighbors were out on the basketball court behind our townhome, so I grabbed my Zeiss 7x42s and went up to the upstairs windows to see what they were up to.

The first thing that I noticed was that there were six, not five, crows together in the group--so the family may be a bit larger than I originally thought. When I first saw them, the birds were sitting more or less together on a split-rail fence surrounding the play area. Then they all flew out to the basketball court. They were all there for only a few moments when one of the birds flew up to the top of a basketball backstop. A couple seconds later, that bird was joined by another, while the remaining four birds continued to walk around on the ground. I didn't see them eat anything, but they seemed to pick up some small rocks and sticks.

The second crow on the basketball backstop seemed to want to get closer to the other one. It sidled up to it and started grabbing the other birds wing feathers with its beak. After maybe 30 seconds, the first bird flew 50 years away and landed on the top of a townhouse. Soon, three of the other birds followed suit and landed on nearby rooftops. I didn't see where the other two birds went. Soon, even the rooftop birds were gone.

Not much to gossip about. I really have more questions than information about these neighbors of mine, and not sure when I'll actually meet them. Maybe I should get some cracked corn for them. If we don't end up moving to Perkasie, maybe I'll be able to find this pair's nest when the nesting season gets started here in a few months.

Meanwhile, some interesting reading on the secret lives of crows from Crow expert Kevin McGowan can be found here. A good old-fashioned life history of crows is online here. In addition, a biography of the crow leader Silverspot, by Ernest Thompson Seton, while perhaps slightly conjectural, has been on my mind a lot lately. I enjoyed it as a kid, and it still serves as a bit of an inspiration for my new fascination with crows.

There is still a lot to learn about these small black neighbors of ours. For folks interested in helping us all learn more about crows, check out to see how you can submit your own valuable crow sightings.

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