Saturday, May 14, 2016

Jammin' In The Hood

I'm walking outside, and there, on top of my topiary salamander, is a tiny plant that looks an awful lot like one I'd put in my flower boxes, only sadder and upside-down. And on the sidewalk, there was yet another, roots-up. Huh. Two of my five flower boxes have been raided and their contents strewn about. It looked like the work of adolescents in need of some impulse control applied to their pimply butts.

I suspect this even though I know there are miscreant corvids in the 'hood who make a point of pulling up shallow-rooted little plants. They are looking for nesting material and they don't really care all that much if it cost $3.99 for a 4-inch pot, especially the scrub jays, who can be downright disrespectful that way. But usually they'll just take one or two plants out of the boxes. They won't strip them clean.

Still, it is nesting season. Crows make a big ol' stick nest and line the center portion with nice soft material, and the nursery doesn't call them "bedding plants" for nothing. And of the eight plants that had been uprooted, I only found four plants. So maybe a crow did pull them out and brought them back home. And half of them didn't make the cut. "Too matchy-matchy," says the female, back at the nest. Or, "Again with the purple?"

We've got a couple good working crow nests within sight of our yard. One of them has been emitting a raspy bleat brraaak brraaak brraaak every ten seconds for days now. Periodically the bleats speed up, and sure enough an adult is circling the tree, and then you see him land and you can hear something being jammed down a throat, brraaak brraaak bluph bluph blaKACK KACK KACK, and there's a fifteen-second pause, and then it's back to your regularly scheduled bleating. I get a kick out of it. I  think: this is how nature provides for the helpless babies in the world. It makes them totally obnoxious and they never shut up and all anyone can think to do is go out and find something to jam in the noise hole.

Then I read up on the crow manufacturing process. And it turns out it's not the baby up there making the racket. It's the adult female. And she does this even before laying any eggs. She doesn't shut up until the eggs pop out, at which point there's a cone of silence over the nest so as not to alert predators; or else because she finds the egg thing too astonishing for words.

And all this time I thought Dave fed me because he loves me.

27 comments:

  1. Oh, you're so fortunate to have a crow's nest within observation range! (Despite the endless bleating and the plant pulling.) I really love crows, and frequently wish that a couple would put a deposit on a tree in my yard. I know that they have some qualities that humans may look askance at, but they are so intelligent and resourceful that I admire them so much.

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    1. I agree! Well--off to Birdathon. Wish me luck!

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  2. You had me at "topiary salamander ".

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    1. Me too!! I had to pause before resuming reading.

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    2. I've got better pictures...I think I might even have written about my salamander before.

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  3. I have a fondness for crows and other corvids, too, even if they are loud. And destructive. Everybody gotta eat, nest, and run off predators. It's the way things work ... although some people think there's a magical difference between humans and the rest of the animal world ...

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    1. I spend many days running off predators. Mosquitoes, Nestle Corporation, etc.

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  4. I have a huge fondness for the corvids. Despite their (occasional) vandalism.
    Your descriptiono of the the incessant and demanding bleating and squeaking reminded me of a young galah who was in shriek and complain mode here last year. It went on and on and on. And on some more. Till an adult (parent?) reached over and rapped it firmly on the head. Blissful silence ensued. And inside we silently cheered.

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    1. NICE! I love hearing from you guys over there. You're always using words I have to look up. And sometimes they come with images of imaginary animals, which is the kind you have.

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  5. I love all my crows and the turkey vultures flying around here!!! And the perfect weather to out and seeing them all everyday!

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    1. Oh, it's good luck to have vultures. Someone's always cleaning up.

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  6. Oh, I'm sure my loving husband feeds me to keep me quiet.

    Great to meet you last Saturday, Murr!

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  7. My compliments on your topiary turtle. Beautiful job!

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    1. I meant topiary salamander, sorry! It just reminded me of a turtle I trimmed into of a juniper at a high school years ago. The students were so pleased. Young people don't usually deface novelty; it was crows.

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    2. Ah, but I have a topiary turtle, too! Not yet. Right now I have a loose association of boxwood plants, but it's planning to be a turtle. I'll let you know. You can wait a few years, right?

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    3. Oh, and Geo., I hope they were crows, but my salamander wasn't defaced. That's just where the thrown plant landed. This was a flower-box raid.

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  8. The crows have been making a racket here for weeks. Most of the birds in the neighborhood use a lot of shed horse hair for nesting material. I think there is an upturn in the breeding population this year. It gets noisy when they hatch, too.

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    1. Are you sure it's all shed horse hair? I just saw a video of a bird yarding out fluff from a living (sleeping) dog.

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    2. I actually took a picture of a raven standing on my horse's butt with a beak full of fur. Apparently, they were both enjoying it.

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  9. I hope it was the crows, because it's hard to get too mad at those clever corvids. Humans, on the other hand...

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    1. Absolutely. No hard feelings with the crows. On the other hand, I just had a run-in with a scrub jay that is severely testing my equanimity with regard to the balance of Nature.

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  10. Loved the post and love corvids, even if they do make a mess and prey on other birds.

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    1. Me too, allthough I just witnessed a predation that got me very upset with them. More on that later.

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    2. Oh look at that, I already referred to it...

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  11. "...the nursery doesn't call them "bedding plants" for nothing"...you are too good for words..wait..you are too good at words...wait...you have good words, terrific words.

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