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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sullen ravens

Our local ravens, Marco and Polo, have been looking sullen.

This winter and spring they breakfasted at 9:00AM daily with neighbor Richard.

While Richard ate his egg whites in the kitchen, Julia served the birds hard-boiled egg yolks on the back deck.

Richard was enthralled.

"They're intelligent, and they talk to each other".

Marco and Polo were like family.

They periodically checked in during the day and peered into the windows.

Then daylight savings kicked in and suddenly the ravens' breakfast was served an hour late.

The new schedule wasn't to their liking.

Marco and Polo were used to having breakfast only so many hours after sunrise.

They started peering into the window while Richard and Julia were still in bed, and when they got up, the birds watched them through the bathroom window.

Julia found it a little unnerving, but Richard was amused.

The birds remained impatient waiting for breakfast.

"Then I heard this tapping," said Richard, "but it took me a while to find out that they were pecking at the skylights".

It was starting to get like Hitchcock's "Birds", so Richard cut off the family breakfasts.

Cold turkey. It worked.

Marco and Polo gave up their attempts to break through the skylights, and spend a lot less time around the house.

"They still visit," says Richard,  "and they grumble on the phone pole. But they don't hang around like they used to".


Hugh Griffith said...

Clever corvids. When I lived in Albany, CA, I made the mistake of leaving peanuts out for the Scrub Jays. When I stopped, they figured out where I slept and hammered on the bedroom window at 7 AM. So I started again.

Cindy said...

This weekend, there were many ravens flying around the Dipper Ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains. One evening, I counted 53 hunting through the grass on a nearby hillside. I could not detect a carcass, another food source or anything else different that attracted so many unless it was something to do with the thermals above the grassy hills this hot weekend (lots of seagulls also). I never see this many ravens all at once but I am reading Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich and he talks about large night roosts of ravens in his research in Maine. Maybe the ravens knew I was reading the book and decided to give me something unusual (in my experience) to think about as they are clever birds.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad that Richard and Mrs. cut off the ravens' treats...

"Then I heard this tapping," said Richard....."

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

I've always loved ravens...and Poe.

Have you read a recent account of crows somewhere in Japan picking up deer pellets and putting them in the deers' ears, as if just for fun?


Camera Trap Codger said...

Clever corvids. Yep, they were trying to train Richard too, just like those scrub jays, Hugh.

Cindy, might they have been eating grasshoppers or grass katydids? Heinrich is a terrific writer -- his father was an amateur but heavyweight ichneumonid wasp taxonomist.

Rich, thanks for bringing Poe to the forefront.