The Crows were upset! Well, that’s nothing new. Crows love drama!
We know there was a successful nest of Crows down back this year. The very strange sounds and un-birdlike calls we heard frequently in early July were eventually traced to young Crows. By early August they had learned to sound more Crow-like.
But today as I worked in the garden, all the Crows were upset and calling loudly and frequently in the back woods. The cacophony carried on at such a level for such a long time that I began to rule out a cat or other ground dwellers as the cause. Crows usually succeed in convincing them to move on fairly soon.
This noise kept going and going. Maybe they had found an owl roosting in one of the tall trees and were calling all their friends within shouting distance to join the party. Owls will often tolerate the Crow’s ruckus as long as the noisemakers don’t get too close.
As I weeded, I heard at least 4 or 5 young and old Crows yelling battle songs. After more than an hour of the Crow serenade, I heard a Broad-winged Hawk call.
The Broad-wings had a successful nest down back, too, and this sounded like the not-quite-right call of the young hawk. I looked up to see two large birds flying between tall locust trees beyond the garden. One, the youngster, perched where I could see it. It kept calling and calling. Was it whining again? “Mom, I’m hungry!” Or was it shouting insults and dares at the crows? “You better not fly past this branch or you’ll get it!” The Crows moved closer to the young Broad-wing. Back and forth they exchanged “words” for quite a while.
Then, all of a sudden, there was one scream from a Red-tailed Hawk.
Junior Broad-wing shut up and both large birds in the locust trees took off for the deeper woods. The Crows continued to fuss until one more Red-tailed scream sent them all flapping their way south in silence.
Apparently the Broad-wing and the Crows agreed that the Red-tail had won the battle of the songs. No broken bones or blood…but the battle was decided.
The woods were now totally silent…except for one sound. The insistent call of a Tufted Titmouse which told me he thinks he chased off all of them. Because, of course, he knows (and if you have ever seen one being banded, you know) he really is the toughest bird on the block.