Wednesday, May 2, 2018
The crow I recently encountered on Lafarge Lake was acting very strangely. It was standing on the banks rattling its beak menacingly, and raucously cawing its head off. Periodically he (she? I can't really tell them apart) would charge at one of the mallards which was peacefully sitting at the lakeside. I've never seen behaviour like that before. If it were nest-guarding, which crows are notorious for doing, I think it would have been dive-bombing me and all the other (many) passersby in the park. But he just stood there, sometimes strutting back and forth, making the loudest, ugliest crow sounds I have ever heard.
The ducks, strangely enough, stood their ground. One was scared into the water, but after that, they stood or sat stodgily, as if to say, we won't tolerate this interloper. Ducks are placid, but they also have a certain gravitas. They are not easily perturbed. Any goose would have made short work of this crow, lowering its neck, hissing and charging at him, but the ducks just had a sort of "we shall not be moved" attitude.
But why try to scare off ducks? How could a duck ever reach a crow's nest, and what sort of interest would it have even if it could? There are plenty of ground-dwelling predators capable of climbing trees and picking off tender crow fledglings. Raccoons, skunks, weasels and ferrets, even squirrels have been known to raid nests. And let's not start on the eagles, hawks and falcons, and even the owls which could easily swoop down and snatch a whole nest.
But this crow was attacking ducks. Placid mallards which didn't want their afternoon snooze disturbed. Ducks who were just waiting for the next handout, the inevitable, forbidden tourist-feed.
I had a passing thought that the crow was injured, but he seemed so able-bodied, so muscular and glossy (thus my use of "he", though I could be wrong) that it didn't make sense. He did not stir from the banks in all the time we spent at the lake, photographing Bosley and Belinda, our favorite duck couple. When we left, he was still cawing raucously and walking back and forth. Strutting, rather, aggressively. My only conclusion is that he saw birds, and birds meant threat, so he was going to get rid of them forthwith.