I was taking a walk on my lunch hour the other day, and happened to stroll under a maple tree. There was a rustling sound in the (few remaining) leaves, and I looked up. At just that moment, a chicken bone fell from the tree to about six inches from my left foot.

The crow that dropped it took off in a cawing flurry to a power line about 100 metres away.

I kept on my walk. When I passed by, he meowed at me.

I never gave crows much thought before I lived in the arctic. There aren't any there, but ravens are plentiful. I was so amazed by this bird which not only survives in the coldest, darkest, rawest environment on the planet, but has enough spare time to mess with the minds of dogs.

I remember watching a raven toying with a dog that was tied up by the sea ice. By the time I got there, the raven had figured out how far the chain would let the dog stray from its pin. The raven would slowly inch its way into that radius, sneaking in, step by step, until the dog couldn't take it anymore and would explode in a barking rage to the end of the chain.

The raven got away every time. Casually. Easily. And every time, the dog felt stupid for choking itself. You could see him vowing never to be fooled again. But he was. I watched the raven lure him back about a dozen times.

When we moved to Saint John, there weren't many ravens to watch. There are lots in rural NB, but we had only crows in our neighbourhood.

I heard a cawing commotion out my back door one day last summer. When I went outside, I found about 20 of them had discovered a powerful updraft created by a steep hill by the pizza place up the street. They would ride that wind about 30 metres straight up, then tilt their wings backward to kick out of the draft. Without a flap, they'd free fall to just above the ground, then glide forward a few metres to catch the updraft again and go shooting back in the air.

It looked like a ferris wheel.

In our new neihgbourhood in Cape Breton, we have both ravens and crows. It's nice to hear the low, mechanical 'quonks' of the ravens again.

1 comment:

J. said...

When I think of ravens, I think of Don McKay. You should read his "Vis a Vis"--it opens with a wonderful homage to the raven.