From The Mountain
Mark J. Tidwell
First off, I’ve got to report about something very strange I saw during the extended rough stretch of weather we just endured. There had been a rabbit killed in the road in Highcliff. One morning I bounced across the railroad tracks on my way to work and startled a murder of crows picking at the carcass, probably about twenty of them. That wasn’t out of the ordinary, except that when they flew away, they exposed a big Red-tailed hawk right in their midst having itself some flattened rabbit as well.
Crows make it their business, indeed their mission in life to harass and make any hawk they can find a miserable, nervous wreck. They dart and dive at them. They squawk at them. They pursue them in aerial dog fights. But, I’d never seen them in such close proximity, for all intents and purposes dining peacefully together. Go figure. Perhaps rabbit stew, mixed with snow, ice, and cold temperatures, makes birds not of a feather flock together.
During the cold, snowy snap, bird seed at our feeders sure did get snatched up quickly. Doves, Blue jays, Cardinals and various other species made it disappear by the bagful. I always enjoy looking out the living room window and seeing those living splashes of color adorning the trees.
Another species I took note of was the Killdeer. They hung around the swampy areas where the snow wasn’t as heavy. I found it kind of comical watching the ordinarily stilt-legged critters with their bellies dragging through the snow. I suppose struggling through the snow storm wasn’t as funny to them though. I could hear them calling even through the night at times. They would only fly away from the dogs at the last possible moment, and even at that just circle back to within a few feet of where they flew from.
Another funny sight during the socked in snow days came from daughter Rebekah’s young bird dog Alice. She is a lively little English setter pup of about seven months, bred for birding of course. And a birding she did go. Several woodpeckers assaulted the trees in our yard. They were hammering away with vengeance until Alice intervened.
The speckled wonder dog made it her mission to interdict the woodpeckers’ routine. After lots of barking, howling, jumping up on tree trunks and so forth, she at long last rid the homestead of the pesky wood chippers. She slept hard that night from the effort. However, she did jerk and quiver in her sleep I’m sure from continued dreams of combat with her feathered nemesis. There’s just something satisfying about the sight of a happy bird dog sleeping in front of a warm heath on a cold winter’s night.