Ponder this:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Crow sounds and hawk sightings

In a book I read recently, The Truth of the Matter, crows were described as always sad-sounding. That stopped me cold, and it might be an example of why I didn't enjoy the book much. The author and I didn't see eye to eye on that. I don't think crows ever sound sad. They sound, to me, mostly like cavorting children: loud, jeering, rambunctious. 

Every morning last week I was tantalized by the pale flash of the underside of a hawk's wings as I drove down the hill road.  Somebody has parked a deer rib cage upright on a fence post there, for whatever reason, and I surmise that the hawk is shrewdly loitering and waiting for easy meals of whatever might dine upon the carcass.  My first thought was "Red-Tail!" because they are so common. One morning, however, he settled in a tree near enough the road that I could stop and watch him for as many minutes as I could spare in my early commute, and he looked so big ("...about nineteen inches tall, weighs two and a half pounds, and has a wingspread of around four feet.")his beak so ferocious, that I thought it must be a bigger member of that family. I'm so used to seeing Red-Tailed Hawks way up in the sky that I have, apparently, forgotten how they are constructed and that they are, most definitely, predators.  Yesterday he did me the favor of tipping his rusty red tail feathers at me. It's a dead giveaway. 
photo from Hawk Migration Notes

There in the tree thirty feet from me he looked gigantic and ominous as a bald eagle!
My respect for the familiar bird is renewed. 


threecollie said...

I totally agree on the crow calls...sad? I don't think so. They are a great barometer of what is happening though. There was a huge flock of them out on the field yesterday screaming up a storm. I knew they were yelling at something, but it was a while before I saw the red-tailed hawk they had cornered in an elm tree.

Mac n' Janet said...

I always think they're laughing at us.
Saw a red-shouldered hawk in one of our trees this week, dining on a dove, thought it was an eagle or an owl when we first saw it, they are big.

rachel said...

Very characterful birds, crows (and rooks) - I don't hear them as sad at all, just very raucous and opinionated. The pair that my little tabby cat stalks (dream on, Millie) use very bad language too, as they sit perched just out of her reach. I love 'em!

Linda Myers said...

We have a family of crows near our deck. My husband calls them "the boys". They yell at us in the morning, reminding us they like recycle scraps.

I've read they're among the top ten in animal intelligence, and I believe it.

morningbrayfarm said...

The last thing I think when I hear the caw of a crow is sad. :)

The beauty of raptors never ceases to put me in awe. You're lucky to have been able to watch your hawk so closely last week.

When we went to the wildlife sanctuary a few weeks ago, I too couldn't get over how BIG the red-tail was... they never seem to be that big when you see them in the sky!

Freda said...

And what about all the noise and busy building that goes on in a rookery come spring? Can't wait for it to happen again! Happy New Year

Tom said...

I like your Emerson quote & it has motivated me to put a quote on my own blog (except I'm not well-versed enuf. to come up with a quote a day; so I'll try for once a week). Anyway, thanks for the inspiration!

P.S. Also like your clever and amusing reflections on the 2000s.

June said...

Marianne, yeah...they don't like hawks, do they? Last week I stood outside and watched three crows chasing away a hawk. There were some awesome and graceful aerobatics in that sight!

Mac n' Janet, I think they are laughing! Somewhere back in one of my posts I think I said they sound like whiskey drunks laughing.

Rachel, they do seem to have a pretty low class vocabulary!

Linda Myers, I've read that too...that they're highly intelligent. I believe it too!

MBFarm, I'm glad you had the same reaction. I felt a little stoopid, thinking that it had to be something else. Red-tails always look kind of compact and tidy wheeling around a thousand feet UP!

Freda, I can't wait either! ...for that noise, and for spring, in general!

Sightingsat60, believe me, if I had to come up with a new quote every day on my own, I'd ditch the whole idea. It's an automatic feed:

Jo said...

What a lovely story...!

We have crows in the trees outside our back windows, and in the spring they go insane as the raccoons try to steal the eggs from the nests. Crows are very social animals, and even recognize human faces. I rather like crows.

Did you hear about the thousands of red-winged blackbirds that fell out of the sky in Arkansas today? Very strange...!

June said...

Jo! No I hadn't heard about that!
A plague of red-winged blackbirds????

Hilary said...

Such a beauty. I saw one just today, perched on a tree as we drove past on the highway. I had the same thought.. how it reminded me of a bald eagle. Incredible birds.

Barb said...

Sometimes a sound will evoke the feeling that's inside a person at that moment. Since you're rambunctious, June... Also, to witness a bird of prey at such close range is a great beginning to your New Year.

Lord Wellbourne said...

I have a crow that thinks he's Mario Lanza perched in the tree just outside my bedroom window every day at 6 am. I've unplugged the alarm clock.

Hawk....predator....take nothing for granted and it will not eat you.