Of Eagles & Crows. A conversation between Judith Stanton & Charlotte Hussey
This post is dedicated to my Mother, Ruth Thompson, a World-Class Birder.
Here at my father’s atop the bluffs above the River Road the eagles get up-close-and-personal. Sometimes they fly so close above my windshield as I climb our big hill to the Big Brown House that I feel I should duck. Our area is on the migratory flyway for all sorts of birds. The eagles create quite a stir. Motorists stop to whip out their binoculars. The eagles soar. And roost in the bare trees that climb the Mississippi River bluffs.
So, I was especially struck by a dialogue between my writing pals Judith Stanton and Charlotte Hussey about watching eagles and crows. Judith is the author of “A Stallion to Die For: an equestrian suspense.” You can learn more about Judith's work at Cat Crossing. Charlotte is the author of “Glossing the Spoils” recently accepted for publication by Awen Press in the U.K. Judith lives in North Carolina while Charlotte lives in Montreal. You can learn more about Charlotte by reading her profile at Awen Press.
Just had to share! North Carolina State University in Raleigh is running a live cam on a bald eagle's nest at Jordan Lake only about 12 miles from me. There's about a 60-eagle population. The eaglets hatched on the 13 and 14th and Ma and Pa Eagle are devoted.
The cam was down for two days until just this morning, but it's live again now every day from dawn to dusk. Most of the time there's little action, with Ma or Pa just sitting on the next, but if you get lucky you get to see them feeding the babies from small birds or fish that they keep in their pantry-the lower right side of the nest. It'll be several weeks before they fledge, but I'm leaving it on all day and checking in when I take potty breaks.
Can't wait until the eaglets get bigger. Every spring I'm a devoted fan of the barn swallows who've been nesting in a corner of one of the back porches for years now, usually two nestings.
The eagles' location is a carefully guarded secret and in the interests of protecting the wildness of the eagles and themselves from anthropomorphizing them, they have not given them names. To avoid the commercials, you have to either turn down the sound or subscribe for $4 a month. Am tempted to subscribe just to support the effort. You can find more information at the Hancock Wildlife site.
Last night when I got home right across the street in a tall maple were at least 200 crows.....a real murder. I think they were up to something, because after I went to bed a terrible howling started up. It was such a wind that pounded us all night long. Parts of Montreal are still without power.
I woke up in the middle of the all-night wind storm worried about what had happened to the crows and their nests in such wintery blasts as were going on. Do you think that’s what they were all convening about in the big maple a few hours before we got pummeled? I have no idea what crows do to protect themselves in such high winds.
Montreal has an enormous crow population and they do meet-ups in the winter. To keep warm? Exchange tips on where the best winter meals can be had? Crows are very intelligent and mysterious creatures. We’ve had as many as 5,000 crows roosting. I do love my crows!
Wow. I assumed all birds left the frozen north with only a few geese and ducks (protected by all that down) remaining.
Charlotte, I think birds have several options in high winds, including flying above them if the winds are low enough. But they must just grab a branch on the lea side of a large tree and hang on.
Yesterday it turned sharply cold (for North Carolina). Several dozen turkey buzzards spiraled in the down drafts above the courthouse in an impressive display for the few people out and about on the streets.
Eagle update: After only a week the eaglets have more than doubled in size and the feedings seem more and more frequent-maybe once an hour. Ma or Pa spends a few minutes shredding bits off the fish before starting to feed the little ones, and they are hungry little buggers. Here in North Carolina we're having a remarkably mild winter with no snow so far, but this same pair has raised broods for the last three winters when we did have snow. The babies are expected to fledge in early April. They’ll be enormous then, and the parents' job of supplying food for them will be almost endless.
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