Monday, April 3, 2017

Hello crows! Goodbye eagle!

I just came in from watching several crows harass an eagle in a tree on our Groveland property.

As soon as I heard the birds' loud cawing cries, I knew something was going on so I rushed outside to see what it could be. It didn't take long to locate the source of the commotion - a bald eagle perched high on a pine bough.

Eagle shouting out a warning cry as it looks up at attacking crows 

The bald eagle may be our national symbol, but to other birds it represents a serious threat to their survival. The regal looking raptor is a royal pain in the flesh to any fish, mammal, reptile, amphibian or smaller bird it sets its sharp eyes upon. It's a skillful raptor who either catches prey in its strong talons or snatches it away from another predator. It's also not above dining on carrion.

Bald eagle with freshly caught fish

The eagle I saw was being attacked by a flock of crows, which is called a murder. A murder is an appropriate name for birds that so ruthlessly defend their territory against perceived dangers. Here on our property, I think of crows as the avian equivalent to a pack of Rottweilers. They're loyal watchdogs with commanding cries.  They won't quit until the threat is gone. I can't tell you how many times the cackling calls of a murder of crows has drawn me outside to witness one wildlife drama or another.

Crow cawing

Below is a video I took a couple years ago of several crows dive bombing a bald eagle.

Although crows are always around, I've been seeing them more often than usual now that it's mulberry season.  When the crows are not busy patrolling the property, they take turns dining on some of fruit growing in our orchard.

Crow with fig

Since we no longer have a dog to warn us when something unusual is happening, I'm glad crows are here to take up the slack.  I like knowing that while I'm in the house working on a project, a murder of crows is out there watching over our shared territory. Some people might find the sight of so many crows frightening, but to me they're an invitation to adventure. Thanks to crows, I've been privy to fascinating wildlife encounters I might otherwise have missed.  

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