Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Corvid Design

In the mid-Seventies. a local outdoorsman assured me that the crows that frequented the drinking fountains near the neighborhood ball field spent their nights in Duvall. At some point in the late Eighties, crows stopped commuting. A hen built a nest in the crown of a 1926 hemlock in my back yard. She did a hostile fly-over one day when I was walking down the back path. I told her irritatedly "I'm not going to hurt your babies!", and I got friendly clucks ever after.

The in-house field science guy has been observing the local flock from his dawn bus stop for about twenty years. The gray squirrels that scamper up and down the towering shade trees on the block are an invasive species that's on the fish and wildlife hit list. I've never had the heart to contemplate taking any action, though I used to remind them that they'd make a good first course at Thanksgiving. Several years ago, the squirrels thinned out. I don't recall seeing a one last year. This spring's sightings have been of grays crouching and looking over their shoulders. Field Guy says he's observed the crows faking squirrels into the path of oncoming vehicles. 

A pair of juvenile squirrels is making its way around the block, and their body form seems different from the bold and glorious imports that were transplanted from London to Central Park in the nineteenth century. The pair is oddly sleek, with shorter fur that lies close to their bodies, almost like seal fur. The tails are shorter and less bushy. The limbs are shorter in comparison to the  torso. On the whole, the body form seems to be shifting to resemble the Douglas squirrel. Presumably, responding to a native predator demands modifications in the direction of a native survivor.

The crows also seem to have driven away the starlings that were common in the early Eighties-30-

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