Every Good Morning

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I like crows. A family of a dozen or so live on our ridge line. They come to our bird feeding areas, careful to stay at least 40 or 50 feet away from the house. Two or three will drop to the ground and walk with that funny, Charlie Chaplin flatfooted gait. At least one remains in the trees, the lookout. When I put binoculars on them, the iridescence of their black feathers pops. They have handsome heads.

I found one of their nests only once, farther west on the ridge, about 60 feet up in a tulip poplar. They build nests every year somewhere on their family territory, but they are secretive when nesting. If Red Tails and Great Horned Owls were seeking to rip my head off, I’d do the same.

For some months last summer and fall  an outlier had been sheltering in the tall trees next to the road and sending out an elongated squawking call. We never saw him with other family members. He had one white pin feather. I wonder if we are hardwired to feel our hearts be tugged in pity by outcasts of any species.

In the winter the prevailing west by north west winds can rise to a gale, and then I can stand in the field and just watch them them swoop and spiral, shimmering with speed and what looks to my eyes like a kind of daring insouciance. That sight lifts my heart. They remind me of Hurricanes or Spitfires from the Battle of Britain – those wonderful shots from WWII movies of graceful machines diving against a perfect blue sky to meet the enemy.

© Mike Wall

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