animal kingdom

I like where I live. I like my town, I like my neighborhood. Carlisle is just big enough to have a handful of decent restaurants, nice little 'downtown' area with assorted shopping options and bars with very nice beer selections, all within 3 blocks of my door. My neighborhood seems quiet for being 'in town.' I can sleep with windows open and drift into dreamworld with a cricket serenade, then wake up to chirping birds in the morning. No overbearing big city sounds of loud traffic and horns and hustle and bustle to disrupt the natural soundtrack.

I'm sometimes surprised by the wildlife I see around my place. I've had possums try to set up house in my basement on a couple occasions, a skunk or two in the backyard at 4am and bats flying in thru a door left open. Huxley had her friends the squirrels to chase along the fence and the neighbor's trees all give homes to a vibrant collection birds.

Sunday I get home from the Stoopid and start unloading the car. I see a momma robin in the alley, her hackles are up and she's squawking a storm. Then I see her little baby birdy along the neighbor's fence. Momma rushes at me, protecting her youngster, which I'm assuming fell from the nest or something. I tell her I'm no threat and go about the reverse gear shuffle. Next trip out the to car and I spot some shadowy fast movement up in the trees. Out in the alley, momma is still raising a ruckus and then I see the culprit, a big old crow standing there. Put two and two together and figure that the crow must be looking for an easy dinner. I'm quickly mesmerized and lean quietly against the car to see what's gonna happen. I don't see the baby birdy anywhere now, just the crow and the robin having a bit of a standoff in the alley.

Then I notice something that I've never really seen before. There's a handful of birds hanging out and watching. I guess the distress call went out and I count another two or three robins, couple small finches and a blue jay. They all seem to be there to back up mama robin, none seem too friendly towards the crow. Lots of squawking and posturing, the standoff continues. The robin's crew are all hanging out on a wire over the alley, keeping an eye on things and offering words of encouragement.

The back-n-forth goes on, and then suddenly the little baby birdy appears. Unable to hide any longer, it's flushed from some tall grass and plops out onto the alleyway. Little bird is obviously not at 100%, can't fly, maybe still too young, and has a gimpyness to it. With baby exposed momma does her best to fend off the crow, who, at about 8 times the robin's size, has an obvious advantage. Mrs. Robin tries to corral her youngster and distract the crow, but eventually that big old bird crow throws in a bit of a head fake and gets a hold of the baby bird. A shake and a twist and the crow is airborne, trying to make an escape but is harassed mightily by mom and her friends. The crow drops the baby from about 15 feet back down onto the tarmac. The baby birdy doesn't move.

Crow flies around and comes back, mom is back on the defense, hasn't really checked on her youngin', still putting up a fight. She's fending off the crow, the other birds are still cheering her on and then the blue jay drops down from the wire and rushes the crow. Crow doesn't flinch much and back to the bleachers goes the jay. I pull myself away from the scene, do another lap of gear and on the trip back out the crow goes whisking by with a robin hot on it's tail. I look up the alley, and the puffy little pile of feathers is still there where it had landed previously. The other birds are around, but not quite with the same intense interest, things were winding down.

Monday morning, the alley was clear, not a trace.

It was an amazing scene to observe, Mother Nature doing her thing in my alley. I thought about intervening, try to chase off the big bad scary crow, save the little baby birdy, save momma the heartache of loss. Do a good deed. But would it have been a good deed? Who am I to take sides in this conflict? Did the crow also have mouths to feed? This is the life process at work, survival of the fittest and all that. An interesting way to finish up the wknd.

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