Sunday, February 17, 2008

Still Keeping Watch

A few of you have emailed me asking if Bran (pronounced "Brawn") is still around. Yes, he is! Almost every day I see him, even on the days we're socked in with snow. On bad weather days he will "caw" at me from one of the large pines across the street. As unbelievable as it sounds I have learned his voice from all other ravens in this area.

Once and a while he'll bring the Mrs. and even the kids around to visit. This fall it was almost as if he were conducting formal introductions - bringing each of his two offspring, one at a time, close to where I was working. He then would utter phrases, first to me, then to them. These were phrases I had never heard him use before and he's only used them in the presence of his offspring. And we think we're so smart...

The pictures here were taken late this fall, before the snows came. If I don't have a mouse I've caught overnight in the barn, I leave a couple of cookies for Bran or something I've brought from the house - maybe a piece of apple (not his favorite), a hot dog leftover from dinner, or maybe a bit of cheese. He'll say thank you, then pick the item up and fly off to eat it or bury it. Yes, ravens bury caches of food to eat when there is nothing else available. I keep trying to tell him the cookies will dissolve but he doesn't listen. He'll just bury them if he's full. I wonder how many eggs my neighbors' horses have stepped on over the past couple of years...ripe eggs, at that. :)

Just a few days ago, I placed a frozen mouse that had been caught in the barn out on the post for Bran to pick up. It was solid as a rock. I couldn't help wondering if poor Bran could forgive me for giving him mouse-cicles. Soon he showed up, chattering away at me about some big event that must've happened overnight as I did the morning's chores around the barn. Then he went to the post, picked up the mouse and flew over to where there was flowing water in the stream. What I saw next astounded me: Bran took the frozen mouse and dunked it up and down in the water until I saw the mouse become limp again. He defrosted it! When it was thawed to his perfection, down the mouse went, head first. I stood there, dumbfounded. What an intelligent creature he is! Absolutely remarkable.

Here's Bran with his two "kids" from this summer. The Mrs. was sitting on a fence further out and I wasn't able to get her in the picture. Yes, you really can tell the differences in individual ravens if you take the time to look and see. Hmm...another of Life's lessons.
Hang in there, Bran...the chickens are starting to lay eggs again so I know there will be a few "seconds" for you. And thank you for keeping watch over me and sharing yourself with me. But you really don't have to keep knocking on the roof of the Vet's van when he comes to see the cats. I'm OK...really!

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Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

What a fascinating relationship to be in! A couple of my favorite books are about people who have had relationships with "just birds," one a quail and one a starling. Those, too, showed so much intelligence and understanding.

nursedragon said...

Today I used up most of the expletives I know in applying them to crows. I wouldn't be surprised if Bran and his crew have been to my place and decided to give me a little help sorting out the garbage. I usually bag up my trash and place it in a high spot next to my shed to keep it from being investigated by skunks and neighborhood dogs. Now the crows have figured out my system and have broken into the bags and strewn refuse all over kingdom come! Not only do they spread it out, but they call their buddies in and have a kaffee klatsch while they are at it. They pick stuff into smaller pieces and fling it about, just in case they missed something good. Arrrggh! Now I have to find a new place to stash until it's time to make a trash run.

bspinner said...

How interesting!!! I once watched a show about the intellegent animals. The crow family were in the top five. What fun it must be to watch them!

Sharon said...

We have a lot of crows but our dogs won't let them in the yard. They are fun to watch. We also have a lot of magpies. I loved the story and read it outloud to Ian. I've heard remarkable things about these birds.

Val said...

Its great to hear about Bran. Having met him when we were there it is great to know he and his family are still around. Hang in there Bran the eggs will be available again soon and no doubt in the spring it will be a new family Val

Nancy K. said...

First, a question: is he a Crow or a Raven? What, if any, is the difference?

Second, a comment: I want a pet crow or raven!!!


Tina T-P said...

I watched a crow bury a whole pack of Dairy Queen French fries in a garden area covered with bark mulch once. He/she was very secretive about it - looking around each time, knowing if he made any noise, someone would see him and come steal his booty! I laughed and laughed. It didn't even ask for my tarter sauce LOL. T.

nursedragon said...

Crows vs Ravens...a little story

Crows and ravens are similar, however there are a few differences. Both birds have feathers at the outermost points of their wings. These special feathers are known as pinions. Crows have 5 pinions at the ends of their wings, whereas ravens possess 6 pinions at the end of each of their wings.

Therefore, one could accurately state that the difference between crows and ravens is a "matter of
a pinion".

Mel ducks now.