Why birds, why not? I was reflecting back on remembrances of my father. I recalled a incident that happened to him. For all my junior years my dad wore his hair long and combed straight back from his forehead. In the summer before my junior year of high school, he got the popular flattop haircut of the time. I happened to be standing at the window of my upstairs bedroom at the back of the house when he came home that day. He parked the car the other-side of the tall oak tree as usual and got out. As he passed under the tree toward the back porch two Mocking birds started to dive-bomb his head, barley missing his scalp with their out-stretched claws. We never knew why they responded in this manner to him. From above the hair cut caused the top portion of his scalp to show up quite vividly. As it was in the spring time I assume that they had a nest in the upper reaches of the tree and they felt a need to protect it from what they perceived as a intruder. For the remainder of the time we lived there he always had to wear a hat in that vicinity to be unmolested by these aviary dive-bombers.
In the neighborhood where I have lived for the last thirty-five odd years, there used to be large numbers of crows. In the last five to six years they have become scarce. Only occasionally do I see them around anymore. I read several years ago that they had thinned out all over the Southern California area. Some speculation has been advanced that they were thinned out by the West Nile Virus ( I believe it was at least). I just the other day saw a crow being chased out of the area by a couple of those rascally mocking birds. It is coming up nesting time and they are very protective of their nest. Crows will eat the eggs of other birds if they can find them. How can such a small bird as the mocking bird drive off a crow? The smaller birds are faster and more maneuverable, like a fighter and a bomber. The smaller bird will dive at the larger birds back while the other one harasses it from the other direction. I have witnessed this type event every year. I suppose the same birds come back to nest in the same area each year, of course the mocking bird never really leaves the neighborhood during the year. I see them all the time and recognise their song patterns.
As I mentioned we used to have a large population of crows around all the time. At one time there was a group that flocked together in the very large tree cater-corner across the street. One in particular was so bold as to land on the young guys arm that lived there and take food from his fingers. On several occasions I coaxed it to my arm. Up close and personal the birds look a lot bigger on the arm than on the ground, also I might add a flannel shirt does not provide much protection from those powerful claws. They are heavier than supposed also. And when it opens that beak and you can see down its throat it is kinds frighting. That beak is a pretty fierce looking weapon up close. I was only able to get it to come to me a couple of times. I do not know if it did not like what I tried to feed it or what.
These crows are really pretty intelligent birds. Also they are scavengers and will eat carrion when they find it. I have often seen them bring something like stale Frito’s or something similar to the gutter and dip it into the water to soften it up. On two occasions I have seen very large flocks of them flying around and sitting in trees raising holy hell. It almost looked like a scene out of Hitchcok’s “Birds”. Upon investigation, (I cannot let something like that go investigated), I have discovered that they had discovered a Hawk in a tree. They were sitting all around it all cawing at full volume at the poor miserable creature. I was never able to wait and see what the outcome was. I do not know if the hawk was already in the tree or if they chased it there. I have seen on several occasions a couple of crows harassing a hawk on wing. I would have thought a hawk was more maneuverable than a crow, but maybe the numbers made the difference. Any way I like hawks on the wing and I like crows too. I used to see hawks along the freeway in the greenbelt under the power lines all the time. This was the only hunting grounds left to them, rodents and rabbits used to be plentiful there.
In my youth in Missouri I used to see all kinds of birds and gave them not much thought. I now regret my squandered opportunities. It was not uncommon to have owl’s living in the tall trees of city streets back in those days. I want to mention a incident that occur here in California with my youngest son’s Cub Scout Troop. We were on a weekend camp out with the oldest son’s Scout Troop also at Vasquez Rocks Regional Park. We were escorting the Cubs on a hike through some heavy brush pointing out what we thought should be of interest to them. As we approached a tall bluff pockmarked higher up with holes two owls exited one of the small caves with shrill screeches. As they flew overhead they each excreted long heavy streams of excrement narrowly missing a number of the Cubs and catching one of the adults pretty much right on, (I might add this crap has a very foul order). This was a warning that we were too close to their nests.
As I reflect on it I have been fourtinuate to observe many of natures creatures in their natural habitate and feel blessed to have done so.
I think that since the TV season has about shot its last salvo for the summer, that maybe I’ll start pouring through my book again for entertainment. Who knows what memories they might jog loose.
Gotta run for now, will try not to hit a wall and knock myself senseless.