Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Peregrine Postscript

(A parenthetic note before I begin this short blog--I think I have at least one more Accra, Ghana blog in me. . .but the following blog is prompted by an observation today.)

Well, our neighborhood has been visited again by the peregrine. Actually, the first time I saw the peregrine was about a year after it began nesting in the Harrisburg area. That spring, I had obsessed with the unfolding story of the peregrines choosing the Rachel Carson building that houses our state department of environmental protection. I watched the webcam daily to see the eggs being laid one at a time, and then watched it to see the eyasses hatch and . . . (as I said, I obsessed).

One day, I looked out our window to see our backyard. We had an outdoor swing on an A-frame, and there perched on top of the A-frame was a bird that was clearly a raptor. I went scurrying off to check our bird guide, and concluded that based on size and markings, it had to be the peregrine.

Today the peregrine was back. As I walked our dog around the block, I saw a group of birds dipping and wheeling low in the sky. When I looked up, I realized it was the peregrine, but this time with full escort. Three crows were flying with the peregrine--no, actually they were not flying WITH the peregrine, but AT it. The crows were clearly harassing the peregrine. They would dive at it, clearly encroaching into its air space. The peregrine kept wheeling, trying to fly away from the crows. Finally, two crows gave up, but one kept up after the peregrine until it escaped and flew away.

I have seen crows do this before--but only with hawks. It is amazing how crows band together and go after a raptor that is clearly bigger than the crows. The crows are fearless. I don't know much about crow behavior, but the little bit I do, I tend to admire them. However, harassing my peregrine--that's forbidden. So, there I am, walking the dog, yelling up at the crows to "leave my peregrine alone." Only afterwards did it occur to me how looney that must have looked--after all, who's to say crows speak "human"?

1 comment:

LauraHinNJ said...

I agree with Laura.

I love to see the way that starlings and other flocking birds *bunch up* when a hawk is in the air - very cool to watch them wheeling around together in the sky, and a good hint to be on the lookout for a hawk in the area.

You're so lucky to have them as backyard birds!