Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Day

Monday, August 11, 2014 
 
Crow came back today. There was a great commotion in the south yard, below my office, as songbirds flew for their lives into the bushes and a red-tail hawk landed on the fence behind the finch- and hummingbird feeders. The hawk perched on the long metal bar and screeched. 
 
And then came four crows, working as a group to dislodge the red-tail, fanning their wings and divebombing close to the predator’s head. It wouldn’t work, of course. Owls and hawks are nonplussed, crow-wise. But the commotion blew its cover and there was no lunch to be had at my feeders. The hawk launched into the air and soared over the woods.
 
But Crow was here. I hadn’t seen him since all the trees blew down, several weeks ago, and the crow family, Mom and Dad and the kids, lost their nest. How do you tell crows apart? He spent this year landing on the window sill and shrieking at Scout the Cat, the two going nose to nose through the window screen. I got many up close and personal looks at him. He is large, with a ripple across this left wing, as though a band of feathers had been compressed. His beak has a small, bony-looking growth by the right nostril.
 
Were the other three crows the family? 
 
They ran awkwardly and chased grasshoppers across the yard. At one point, Crow stood under the hummingbird feeder and looked up at the window. They hung around for a half hour then flew off.
 
On my walk today, the first waves of Canada geese flew overhead, honking. Twenty American white pelicans worked the shallow bay of Scotch Jimmy Island, walking through the water in a line then turning and forming a horseshoe shape, corralling the minnows and small fish that had been caught in the net, and gobbling them up. Five great egrets fed their babies. 
 
I saw Hummingbird Man lounging in a chair and smoking a cigarette. He was so deeply tanned he might have been a black man. Around his head swirled twenty or so hummers, chattering and drinking deeply. My own rubythroats are sipping greedily and fighting for positions on the feeder. 
 
Waves of cliff swallows darted and plucked insects out of the air. The peregrine falcon mother was teaching her chick to fly. There had been two chicks in July. Peregrines are the smallest of hawks and the fiercest. They could easily kill a stray vulture gliding by or near the nest.
 
Can it be that eagles and snow geese and trumpeter swans will return here in but two months, the rubythroated hummingbirds are preparing to migrate, and Dovestoyevski has to be on alert as hunters go after his petite breast? 
 
The seasons pass, the story told through a progression of flowers, from crocus to hollyhock to emptiness, and birds vacation or put on new feathers or escape Alaska for the “warmth” of the Midwest. 
 
The blackberries are rotting and wilted and raccoons and finches can get drunk on the fermented fruit. Intussuscepting pumpkins, gorged on lush rain, glow as though someone had polished them. Life is glow and fade, swell with ripeness and shrivel. The salvation, for animals and plants, is ignorance.
 
As for the Watchers . . . we count the days.
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