Well, just need to dust off the furniture and do a bit of sweeping – it’s been a while since I dropped in here. So, the Grackles and Blackbirds rolled in last night, and this morning I was treated to an enthusiastic courtship in the tree behind the house as I left for work. The male Grackle, a foot or so away from the female, was letting it all fly – spreading the tail, drooping the wings, squeaking the rusty hinge, bobbing and weaving, etc. The female was apparently indifferent to his presence, staring vacantly into space. It reminded me of the old Far Side cartoon, ‘Same Planet, Different Worlds’. Meanwhile, although the Cardinals have been yelling away like nobody’s business for the past several weeks, today was the first time I heard a House Finch singing. I must have just missed them – in past years I recall hearing them going at it even as early as mid-January. I don’t suppose that they are finally getting used to East Coast time; they’ve been here in the east for over 50 years now. Speaking of adjusting, lately I’ve been noticing the huge flocks of crows heading in to roost in the evening; they’re looking like flocks of giant blackbirds any more – hundreds of crows in a single horizon-to-horizon band. Since about 70-80% of them appear noticeably smaller than the few big boys in the bunch, I’m assuming that this is the present ratio of Fish Crows to American Crows in Baltimore. I find this interesting because this morning, while waiting for the bus, I heard a flying crow yelling in a way that caught my attention. It was a more gravelly, deeper sound than the normal Fish Crow call, but way too ‘quacky’ to be an American Crow, I thought. I wonder (as I have for a while now) if they’re hybridizing?
Speaking of Fish Crows, the other day I got to see one of them putting the screws to our local big female Sharp-shin all the way across the neighborhood. It was a sunny, windy day, and the crows in general were in high spirits, but this was quite exceptional. They were almost exactly the same size, and both very aerobatic, but the crow was definitely getting the better of the match-up. He was all over her, no matter what she did: swerve, plunge, stall, jink, juke, etc. It was a straight one-on-one, and I bet she had some lumps by the time it was over. I didn’t see her even make an effort to lay a talon on him, and the other surprising thing was that she never tried to land and wait him out – she was just heading for the nearest woods, I guess.