I think we — as a family — took more pictures during the past three or four days than we took the entire rest of the month. The huge blizzard that hit us geared everyone up and since Owen had the perfect camera — an Olympus Tough TG-6 — ready to go out into the snow and ice? Well, that camera met its match and performed entirely up to par. That being said, a layer of ice and snow over any lens, so matter how well-sealed does not make a very clear photograph. It gets pretty interesting, all the weird twists the pictures take as they find their way through the melting snow and ice chips.
It was even hard just taking pictures from the inside. Snow coming down so hard, it looked like fog. So much light sheared away by the snow that pictures taken in the middle of the day looked dark. I have a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, I suspect most of them are not going to be usable unless I’m willing to put a huge amount of work into processing them and I’m not sure they are good enough to warrant that much work.
I kept looking at these two birds and thinking, “Funny. They don’t look like Grackles.” After a while, I realized that is because they are not grackles. They are crows. Fish crows which are what we have around here because they like to fish in the rivers. Smaller than regular crows, they are otherwise almost exactly the same as the bigger crows.
Birds with black feathers like to hang out with other birds with black feathers. Flocks of black-feathered birds — crows, grackles, red-wings, starlings — form mobs and fly together as a group. This group does not include Ravens because for reasons no one knows, crows hate ravens. I frankly don’t know how Ravens feel about crows. No one seems to know, probably because Ravens (unlike all those other black-feathered birds) are solitary. They don’t join mobs.
But the crows just hate ravens. If they spot one, they form a huge group and attack the raven. They can’t really hurt them. Crows (and grackles and other black birds) aren’t attack birds. What they do is make it really difficult for the raven to fly. They get in his way and eventually, the raven just leaves their “territory” or finds a secure tree and waits for the mob to leave. They will also form mobs to chase away hawks and are surprisingly successful at it, though it can take them a while to organize. They have to go through the woods calling for a mob to form.
Only black-feathered birds do this “mob” thing.
Finches like to hang out in flocks, but they don’t mob, not like the black ones. They will flock — maybe a dozen birds, give or take a few. But black birds form huge groups. The one that has settled here are about 200 or more strong. That is a very big group and they seem to have settled here. I was hoping they were just here for a visit, but they seem to be settling in for the long haul.
It’s all about the food. They just love those seeds and suet. If this were summertime, I’d take down the feeders and let them all fend for themselves until the big birds move on, but it’s the dead of winter. They need food. They may be pushy and annoying, but they are also interesting, funny, and entertaining. Also, I have some serious questions about where those birds could go. No one can feed them all, but our woods is full of oak trees. When the snow isn’t covering the ground, there is a ton of food down there and I’m pretty sure they know that — and that is why they are settling down. It’s not just my feeders. It’s those thousand acorn-producing oaks that surround us and go on for about 50 acres.
My one and only reason for periodically moving the grackles and sometimes crows away from the feeders is that I’m going through about five pounds of seeds daily. I can’t feed a couple of hundred grackles and crows and who knows what else?