Posted by: atowhee | November 13, 2020


“Our words have no inherent meaning to a corvid; they are arbitrary, but the natural communication system of these birds also involves arbitrary symbols (calls) that refer to specific objects and actions in their world.”
― John M. Marzluff, Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans

We all know how crows behave in their territory. Alert. Watching. Giving out alarms. Town criers. Social, tribal, gang members in all black uniforms. They are also often the beneficent conveyers of warnings to all within earshot. Like this morning when I saw two screaming and speeding into our garden in pursuit of a Sharpie–likely the one I saw here yesterday. He evaded them by speeding through a dense Doug fir and then off down the street after he excited the opposite side of the tree. The crows pulled up in the tree’s crown and had a good chuckle over their victory. I did not see the Sharpie return though I keep feeding and re-feeding the dozens of siskins and juncos that could have afforded a warm meal for the accipiter. The crows later rewarded themselves with sunflower seeds and peanuts provided by us.

Here’s the Sharpie as I saw him yesterday:

We are now living in a siskin metropolis. They out-number us at least sixty to two, sixty to four if you also count our dog and cat. They are more numerous than juncos by about two-to-one and American goldfinches three-to-one. At any one time I rarely see more than five crows, four jays, half dozen starlings or two chickadees. Sis-city is our informal address now.

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Nov 13, 2020
12 species

Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  1
California Scrub-Jay  5
American Crow  6
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
European Starling  X
Pine Siskin  60
American Goldfinch  20
Dark-eyed Junco  30
Spotted Towhee  1

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