Posted by: atowhee | July 23, 2020

EVOLUTION: FROM CRO-MAGNON TO CROW MAGNET

When I am out chasing birds to watch I sometimes feel a kindred sense of what our ancestors would have been like, would have known about the other animals in their world.  Of course, the Cro-Magnon pursed birds, driven by a physical hunger.  It is a modern privilege to be able to pursue them for knowledge and their glamour.

I am starting some new eBird lists during this decade, likely to be my last even though the old body is not giving off any warning signs…yet.  We are moving to Salem so our new new home and garden are now a personal eBird location.  We are near a small city park, Clark Creek (6.8 acres) and I got to add it to the eBird hot spot list.  So the checklists for it will likely be all mine, until I find something rare there and outsides come pouring in.  Until that time Clark Creek will be my own little bird preserve.  There are conifers, large walnuts, a tiny year-round stream (C.C.) and its narrow riparian strip, lawn.  Blooming right now are QA lace, native spirea, tansy ragwort.  In fruit are blackberry, hawthorn and red osier dogwood.  So far my site list includes fewer than ten species and only three checklists.  Over time I will surely add swallows, perhaps swift, wintering thrush, waxwings, some passing warblers, wintering juncos and sparrows, a Cooper’s Hawk, passing vulture and Osprey.

In Ashland we lived between a creek-enriched city park and national forest land so our garden list passed 100–Band-tails would come and invade our feeders every April.  That never happened in McMinnville and I don’t imagine it will happen in Salem.  In McMinnville five years of watching got our garden list up to 72 species–two Band-tailed sightings, both fly-overs. Yet I hear there are Wild Turkeys in that part of Salem.  I miss their summer demands that were so forward and so frequent in Ashland.  Of all the introduced bird species they are most amazing and alarming for their ability to alter habitat.  Domination is their thing, must be good Republicans.

In Salem our garden list starts small, both jays, crows, chickadees (BC variety) RB Nuthatch, Anna’s, Spotted Towhee. The latter snarl at me from the dense shrubbery.  One scrub-jay has already claimed a suet block feeder and so informed me today in his own voice that I had better keep that feeder filled.  His suet block is two-thirds gone in a week.

One thing is already clear our new neighborhood around Clark Creek is crow country.  Their nasally whining and cavilling is nearly constant in daylight. In McMinnville they only fly over our suburban homes, but in Salem they strut about the lawns and park.  When I am out they watch, they comment (perhaps sarcastically as I cannot fly), the follow.  Cro-Magnon to crow magnet.  Is that progress or simply evolution taking its random effort at going somewhere toward survival?

The scrub-jays are still not used to being watched so they retreat into the shade when I stare at them.


Responses

  1. Best wishes to you in your new home, Harry!


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