This morning a raven, or very large crow, visited my neighbour – the magpie nest. It was accompanied by an entourage of one or two smaller crows. A dozen magpies gathered to drive it away, although their efforts seemed to be ineffectual. The raven was not intimidated and settled at the side of the nest. Magpie nests are hooded, which must make them easier to defend – buying the defenders some time to drive the intruder away. The raven wasn’t deterred, and moving aside a branch from the top of the nest, plunged its beak into the nest several times.
After the raven flew away, mama magpie checked the nest, then gently shooed the magpie warriors away from her nest. The pair hung around the nest afterward, occasionally flying to it to peer inside.
A couple of hours later the raven returned. Instantly nearly 20 magpies materialized from nearby trees to defend the nest. The raven landed at the nest, then soon retreated this time… perhaps finding no treasure left.
Magpies will do a ‘take two’ if the first clutch fails. These two haven’t abandoned this nest – they’ve continued to busily tend to it throughout the day.
Saw the merest wisp of the sickle crone moon low in the sunrise-pink sky around 8 this morning – crescent so delicate it could melt away in a moment; just a glimpse of her back as she slips out the door.
The sun still had a ways to climb before breaking the horizon on this solstice weekend.
Moon and sun meeting at the darkest end of their cycles.
A perfect weekend to enjoy the gifts of the darkness – healing rest, quiet contemplation, stillness – a peacefully introspective time.
The apparently vacant stump showed a flurry of activity this afternoon…
Absent since spring migration sightings, a few robins have reappeared in the neighbourhood briefly.
Two juvenile robins… or possibly another type of smaller-sized, adult thrush… hopped and hunted their way through the yard – subtly rust-coloured, mottled breasts.
A single adult robin seen nearby another day. Most recently, an adult robin lying dead in the alley with a throat wound… the same bird?
Other places are alive with birdsong in the summer, while this area seems quiet by comparison.
I bear witness to the truth of this recent local newspaper article – in this neighbourhood owned by magpies and squirrels, “few town-nesting American robins ever succeed in raising a clutch of eggs to hatching.”
A week ago in the park, unusual feathers covered the ground. They were fluffy, with blunt tips. Yellowish fuzzy tendrils so fine that they clung to everything the feathers touched. Brown and white, barred with darker brown. It was hard to find any good ones to bring home because they appeared to have been through a lawn mower.
I assumed from all the feathers that a bird had met its fate there – perhaps a passing coyote?
I’m not familiar with identifying birds by their feathers (except for the brilliant yet ubiquitous Magpie) but my guess was an owl, based on my amateur intuitive reasoning that if the shape of the parts resembled at all the shape of the whole – that squarish, blunt shape & bars just seems owlish!
Today passing through the park again, I was surprised to see fresh feathers, these ones unmown and in great shape. This batch was less fluffy than last week’s, and didn’t have such square tips. Perhaps the bird is alive and well, after all!
It dawned on me that there may be a juvenile owl just getting her first adult suit – from the fresh supply and the reduced baby-fuzziness. Peering into the treetops in the bright sunshine I couldn’t see any sign of the little(?) one, though. If it is an owl, it’s come to the right place – plenty of young jackrabbits to meet any carnivorous appetite in these parts!
Looking again at the colouring, I remember the last mystery bird in the neighbourhood – the Ring-necked Pheasant… Maybe I’ll have to do some research on this one!
This week baby magpies left the nest in the neighbourhood. So cute with their little tails, concentrating hard on short, inexperienced flights.
This morning I saw something I’ve never seen before – young magpies with light grey markings* where normally they are blue-black. They look so different I wouldn’t have thought they were the same kind of bird, but they were behaving like other young magpies, making the same calls with other magpies, and seemed to be part of a family of normally marked magpies. Possible!?
(*Not pictured here – didn’t have my camera with me!)