Tuesday, March 07, 2006


One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three's a girl
Four's a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven's a secret
Never to be told.

It's just past six thirty a.m. here in Nova Scotia and I'm sitting on the second floor overlooking my back yard, where the birds, rabbits and squirrels are making a breakfast of sunflower seeds, cabbage leaves, apples and potato peelings.

We've a resident family unit of five crows who are currently overseeing this morning's breakfast gathering. They are being held at bay by the chickadees, who are a contentious, noisy bunch. After full sunrise, I expect the Evening Grosbeaks to show up in all their splendor. The males are a glorious yellow, black, brown and white and I suspect they're much like baboons, as there always seems to be one large male overseer who is larger and more brightly coloured than all the others. go read Terri Windling's lore about birds.

I'm a fan of corvids and crows in particular. They keep some of the previous year's hatch around for next year to help in feeding and raising the next season's baby crows. They are noisy, nosey and opportunistic. Their verbal repertoire is nothing short of fantastic - everything from flying saucers in the woods to a musical tap tapping sound that must have given rise to John Wyndham's Triffid communications. I've no idea what they are talking about, but I have on occasion spoken to them. I'm concerned that my crows are a little on the stupid side, or else they're malicious. Here in rural Nova Scotia most folks have a garbage box to keep crows, raccoons and bears out of the garbage. We put garbage in opaque green bags and the recycling material goes in translucent blue bags. If I leave my blue bags outside the garbage box, the crows take great joy in tearing the bags to shreds and gaily decorating the landscape with plastic grocery bags and bits of paper. If I leave the recycling bags in the garbage box, the "sanitary engineers" won't put them out for the recyclers, who refuse to open the lid of the garbage box. It must be a union thing I guess. My garbage box is made of marine plywood and painted forest green and I've seen it turning and tumbling on a giant wave of snow thrown up by the snow plow during storms. It can surf a surprising distance that way - past the lilac bushes and right into the white pines. The mailbox stays where it is though. It's anchored in steel and concrete.

This has been a light winter hereabouts with often mild temperatures and not a lot of snow. I've about forty to fifty centimetres (eighteen inches) in the woods. Rabbits are plentiful and tame. They'll come right up and sniff your boots looking for food, which is kind of charming. The way they're behaving at the moment, I suspect we'll have a full crop of baby bunnies this spring. Good pickings for the owls and there are a few of them too. You can recognize an owl strike in the snow if you know what to look for: their wings whoosh the snow on either side of the talon strike and it gives a good idea of wing span. If you'd like to know more about Canadian wildlife, try Hinterland Who's Who, and if you'd like to narrow your focus to birds, try WhatBird.

The sun is now up and shining on my monitor, which makes it difficult to read. That's one of the reasons it's situated where it is: keeps me active outside instead of sitting here pounding the keyboard.


At 4:40 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...


I haven't heard that poem about crows for a long time.

At 4:41 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...


I haven't heard that poem about crows for a long time.


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