Yesterday, while working in my garden in downtown Ithaca, I noticed out of
the corner of my eye a black bird fly into the Norway Maple.  I assumed it
was a grackle as they are nesting in the tree (and had a fledgling recently
land in the street).  A Fed Ex guy stopped last week to relocate it to the
grass.  Anyway, I then heard a loud scuffle in the tree, looked up, saw a
larger-than-grackle sized bird bolt out with something in its mouth.  My
first thought was, "crow took a chick!"  Then about eight grackles chased
after the crow scolding it up and over the towering Sugar Maple nearby.  I
did not have my binoculars, but the object in the crow's mouth appeared to
be about walnut-size or avocado-pit-size and black.  The object was
predominantly round in and ball-shape, but I could kind of make out a large
head and tiny body with damp feathers as the chase zipped by me in all of
about two seconds before the crow and object were out of my view.

After the excitement, or trauma, depending on your perspective, I guessed
it was a Fish Crow on the grounds that
1.  they have been the dominant crow call I've heard in my neighborhood
this spring
2.  it almost passed for a grackle based on size (so smaller than American
3.  I heard a Fish Crow call about thirty minutes later and no American
Crows all day.  Last year, American Crow was the dominant crow call I heard.

I found many things interesting about this observation.
1.  It appears there is a colony in this tree, and this is the first time I
observed a visible count of what appeared to be an entire colony defense
system.  There was silence in the tree as the chase ensued.  Did any stay
behind?  This flying after a crow is different than watching a robin or
sparrow fly into the tree and just get scolded (not chased)...where I could
only hear but not visibly count.
2.  The crow flew in as if it "knew" exactly what it wanted, where to go,
and how it would leave.  The entire theft took about five seconds from
start to flight over maple.  I've heard it calling all spring from within a
block of my house.  So it probably has been "watching" grackles to figure
out where it nests....a bit creepy.  Yes, so intelligent, as we know!!!
3.  I usually hear the Fish Crows dominate about five blocks in another
direction, and have never seen grackles nest in my yard.  So I think this
explains why a bird would want to change nest locations every year.  And
has anyone ever speculated why the Osprey at the inlet at the Newman Golf
Course stopped building its nest?  Great Horned Owl?  Did the GHO nest
again nearby?
4.  I have since noticed one grackle "standing on guard" perched on a phone
wire looking directly at the nesting tree.  I never thought about it
before, but after this incident, I think that is what it may be doing.
5.  I did see a grackle once dash into the nesting tree like a lightening
bolt when a robin entered.  Robin left promptly but lagged for a moment.

*"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come ALIVE, for what
the world needs is people who have come ALIVE."  - Dr. Howard Thurman,
American Theologian, Clergyman and Activist (1900-1981) *

Sandra (Sandy) Wold
Author/Originator/Designer/Publisher of Cayuga Basin Bioregion Map,
Artist, <>

*To be astonished is one of the surest ways not to be old too quickly.* -
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette


Cayugabirds-L List Info:


Please submit your observations to eBird:


Reply via email to