On our dog walk this morning Carole and I saw the pair of ravens (not crows) who live up on the hill and a pileated woodpecker flew across the road just in front of us, then went to work on an old snag with the sun behind him so that we could see the full glory of his red crest. Cool and clear this morning.
The robins were a little surprised this morning — as were we all — to wake to a steady snowfall. We watched them grubbing in the roadside gravel as I drove Carole to work to meet her colleague for a trip to the airport and thence to Washington DC, where they are preparing an exhibition of Inuit art for the Canadian Embassy in the fall. One of the robins nearly flew into the windshield, but got caught in the slipstream and whooshed to safety, to everyone’s relief. And though I didn’t see or hear it — I was sleeping — Carole said that at dawn, while we were still in bed, a dark shape of a bird flew by our bedroom window screeching. Probably a kingfisher, though possibly a pileated woodpecker, she only caught a glimpse. When we walk the dogs along the Morgan Road, back in the woods along the river, we see the huge holes the pileateds hammer into old trees, piles of rough wood chips on the ground. Then there are the crows, which we both love, strutting around in the road and pecking at squashed chipmunks, etc. — so intent you have to hit the horn to get them to rise from their breakfasts. Have you ever noticed that crows have shoulders? Watch one walk, shoulders flexing beneath glossy blue-black feathers.
In winter the crows congregate deep in the woods, doing their philosophy presumably, and we only see them high in the sky, circling in large groups. Now that the snow is melting we see them solo on the tops of white pines and cedars scouting territory for the breeding season. Sometimes one crow will follow us as we walk the dogs, arcing from one treetop to the next along the road. This morning we also saw the first returning Canada Goose. One almost never sees them by themselves, but this guy was flying north and squawking his head off. Having arrived early, he must have been lonely and looking for company. It won’t be long before they have returned in their numbers to our bend of the river, where they nest on the sandbar and get handouts of corn from Betty, who lives across the water from us.
Three crows stroll along
the dirt road: adolescents
with somewhere to go.
no doubt, but they let you know
theyâ€™re in no hurry.
Sunlight sheens their backs
& they are comfortable
muttering their dark joy.
I had read something previously about this research into the fact that crows can recognize individual humans, but this is a more extended account. A couple of months ago up at the Blue Mountain Center, I wrote three poems about crows — we had a noisy resident group who entertained me through the afternoons, congregating in the Jack Pines near my window. Reminders that we humans share the world with many other intelligences & perceivers.