On Thanksgiving, my husband cooks the turkey (this, by the way, is all the mention that turkeys will get in this post). It’s his job because he’s really, really good at it. And his stuffing is even better. It’s a wonderful tradition, don’t you think?
However, our house does not have an exhaust fan in the kitchen, so sometimes the aromas of whatever is roasting and simmering and getting nuked in the microwave can get a little heavy. So at one point I opened the door to let some fresh air into the house and stepped out to let some fresh air into my lungs.
Across the way, on the edge of the park, there’s an old cottonwood that’s on the edge of death and probably will be for the next fifty years. It’s sort of a neutral zone for the neighborhood birds and squirrels. Often one can see nesting hawks, busy-body robins, clustering sparrows, and courting doves all in the tree at the same time, and at dawn, often an owl.
So I wasn’t surprized to see a crow (it might have been a raven. We have those too. But the tail looked more crow-like to me, so I’m going with crow. If anyone who knows more about birds than I do thinks it’s a raven, please speak up) and a red-tailed hawk (I looked that up in our bird book, so I feel a bit more sure of my identification here) hanging out amicably in the cottonwood.
BUT (and here’s where the drama begins) — there was another crow lurking in a different tree on other side of our neighbourhood and it began screaming and cawing and screaming and cawing, then screaming and cawing some more. It was obviously out of sorts.
I saw the crow and the hawk in the cottonwood look at each other. I swear they shrugged.
Then the farther crow apparently got to the one in the cottonwood because it shook its feathers and started squawking at the hawk.
The hawk tried to ignore all the noise. It even gave me a look that seemed to say “You see with what I have to put up?” (Hawks are total grammar wardens.)
But the crows wouldn’t let up. The one I couldn’t see kept egging on the one by the park, and that one kept kvetching at the hawk. The hawk tried giving it the evil eye. It didn’t work. The crow started flapping around and jumping from branch to branch.
The hawk gave me another look. I’m not sure what it thought I was supposed to do. I was clearly a disappointment.
Then the crow took up a position directly over the hawk, paused, and dived at the raptor.
Now the hawk was rather bigger than the crow. It’s a hunting bird, fierce, far-seeing, fearless. The crow is a scavenger. It just sits around waits for stuff to die or for other animals to kill things. So you’d think the outcome would be obvious, that the hawk would bat the crow upside the head and show the corvid who was the boss.
But no, nope, not at all. The hawk took off and the crow harried it to another tree, away from the neighbourhood, at the far side of the park.
Job done, the crow flew off and settled on one of the lights by the baseball field.
As I turned off my camera and turned to go back in, the other crow, the one that had really instigated the whole affair, apparently dissatisfied with the job the first crow had done, burst out of the tree where it had been hiding, hared after the hawk, and proceeded to circle the tree where the hawk had sought refuge.
And that’s where I left them: the hawk in the pine, one crow surveying the empty baseball field, the other making small circles over the hawk.
Is there a point or a moral? I don’t think so. If you come up with one, let me know in the comments.
2 thoughts on “Turkeys and Raptors and Crows — Oh My!: A Small Thanksgiving Drama”
What beautiful birds! I’m impressed you got such good photos of them.
Isn’t it fun to observe nature? If only we knew the ending to what you observed.
I enjoy bird and nature watching, too. Last summer I saw several sparrows chase a much larger bird (possibly a red-winged blackbird?) out of a tree. I still wonder what that kerfuffle was about.
The interactions between birds interests me, too. I’ve seen hawks chased off by smaller birds fairly frequently. I’ve seen the chickadees in our yard hang out with the sparrows and with the goldfinches, but I haven’t seen the goldfinches and the sparrows ever share a tree. Is this a Batman-Bruce Wayne situation? Or is this a rule that pertains only in our yard?
Right now the owls in the neighbourhood are starting breeding season, and they’ve begun the call-and-response mating rituals that I love hearing. Most of them are so haunting and gentle at the same time.