An Amateur Birdwatcher's tally
Every time I look at a crow I remember an interesting experience. It was early one Saturday morning. Maggie and I had gone out for a walk, too early for Katie, the late sleeper. Maggie and I trotted down a block and turned the corner. I slowed immediately. We had been watching for a neighbor dog, whom the girls like. But he wasn’t out. Now my eyes were trying to sort out what I was seeing up ahead.
Something black was scooting along the sidewalk. It was too big to be a mouse. Too black to be a rabbit. Too small for a dog or even a cat. Maggie noticed it with excitement. Unfortunately, her interest was predatory. It was moving! We stepped ahead, with Maggie’s leash tight in my hand. Now I could tell the creature was a crow. He was injured. I stopped.
There were a few cats on this block, and some of them were outside, in the distance. I swallowed. It was a crow – some would say just a crow. But it wanted to live! It was looking for safety. Maggie turned reluctantly with me and we raced home.
I had no idea how to find help. Animal control was closed for the weekend. A veterinarian’s office suggested an animal sanctuary. There was one in the phone book. I had never heard of it before. But I called the Puget Sound Wildcare with cautious hope.
“We can’t come get him. But if you bring him to us we will do what we can,” I was told. “Get a towel and toss it lightly over him to pick him up.” This made me nervous. He may already be dead, I thought. But my conscience wouldn’t let it go. I got a towel and walked reluctantly back to the spot.
A cat was on a fence by the sidewalk where Mr. Crow huddled. The bird was alive but not able to fly. I tossed the cover over him and picked him up. “Scat.” I told the cat. The cat would have frowned if he could have. He hopped disappointedly into his yard. I carried the bird to my car, where I had my sister waiting to drive us. We had a cat carrier, which I placed him in, towel and all. He was still alive. We drove quickly to the sanctuary which was only about 15 miles away. We had to carry him to the back door, down an incline. He didn’t protest once.
I paid a contribution for his care - $25 was more than they requested. The receptionist wasn’t a veterinarian but she though he’d hurt his ankle. There was no guarantee he would survive. If they couldn’t repair the leg he would be put down. I could accept that. What crow would want to live if he couldn’t fly? This death would be kinder than in the paws of a cat. I left him in good care.
Now I look for him in every group of crows. Don’t know if I’d know him or not. I never checked back. My heart couldn’t take bad news. But there are a lot of crows out there. Here’s a cute one dancing on a bush outside a fast food restaurant. She got a French fry for her photogenic behavior. This paparazzi tries to be a good lady with her targets.
Babies and daisies in June
Daisies and babies
The daisies are back! It’s a day of rejoicing when I go to Flaming Geysers and the meadows are alive with daisies. Black eyes and yellow eyes are awash in white faces mixed with buttercups. Stunning. The birds seem to like it, too. Trails wander through meadows of flowers, which hide the occupants in some places.
This is the time of year of babies. Calf babies, Canada geese babies, babies all over the place. It’s a fun, exhilarating period of joy and interest.
For baby pictures I will get out of the car, which is pulled over to the side of the road, and cross the street. That is what I did for Canada Geese baby pictures. Not a big adventure, fraught with danger, but I could get hit by a car so I guess I can classify this activity as an interesting activity. It's more than the drive by driving we usually do.
As I stood snapping pictures a truck stopped. The driver was curious about what we were so excited about. He looked and said “They’re very tender, aren’t they? I used to be a hunter. But now I’m vegetarian. That batch might make me want to go get a gun and hunt again.” I hid my chagrin and horror. “We’re bird watchers, not hunters.” Was my only response.
I am not a vegetarian – I was raised a meat and taters girl. But all my meat comes from the grocery store, where I expect the creature that provided it to have been raised kindly and killed quickly. I don’t like hunting. Yet I know some hunters. So I swallowed hard and tried to think polite thoughts about the man who drove off. Those thoughts included strong hope that he didn’t plan to come back with a gun and was truly a vegetarian. Also, the birds vanished down the bend and I didn’t think he could find them again. I hope. Back in the car, Maggie whimpered in concern. But I came back safely.
Then we went on to the park, full of daisies and birds which were protected from hunters. Fishing is allowed, but no hunting. I’m glad.
What did I see, beside Canada Geese? An eagle, a hawk, robins, pigeons, starlings, brewer blackbirds, 3 types of swallows (barn, tree, and violet green), mallards, crows, my scrub jays, sparrows, and juncos. Also, Two baby calves with their mama. Not too bad for a quick drive!
I love birdwatching. It's relaxing and fun. Even though I've been birding for over 10 years I classify myself as an amateur birder. I plan to write a blog a week about my experiences. Hope you enjoy them!