Daily Observations

Raven

I did not spend much time outside today, just a little bit around the house and walking between buildings on campus. Despite the minimal time and distance covered, I did notice some interesting things.

Weather: The snow continues. There were a few breaks in the clouds with sun shining, but much of the day there was snow of sort or another falling. It did not seem too windy, and when the sun was out this afternoon, it actually felt fairly pleasant out. There may have been an additional accumulation of a couple of inches or so today, but that was probably offset somewhat by compacting and melting of previous snow fall as the temperatures warmed.

Birds: Today’s bird observations seemed to be primarily of corvids, Ravens and Crows, to be specific. This morning when I was walking to class, I noticed a couple of ravens walking around the Rasmuson parking lot and sticking their beaks into the snow. It was not at all clear to me whether they were eating snow, or doing something else.

Later this morning I heard some crows actively calling while I was in my office. I looked out the window and saw several of them in the trees behind Rasmuson. A little later when I went home for some food, I noticed they were still there and I also observed some in the trees behind our house. At least one of them was making sounds that, for lack of a better way of describing them, sounded like the rattling sound made by the Predator (in the movie). (I went inside to get my recording stuff in the hopes of capturing the sound, but unfortunately I had the recorder on pause instead of play.) Periodically the crows would start cawing vigorously and all take off and fly around a bit only to land in the trees a few moments later (sometimes very close to where they had taken off from). I’m not sure what to make of this kind of behavior, but it seemed interesting.

I heard some high pitched birds (Kinglets or Creepers, perhaps) while observing the crows, but I did not manage to catch sight of them.

A Varied Thrush took off from beside the Fraser Ramp as I walked down it when leaving my office today. It flew over to the Yews in front of Whitmore where it was promptly flushed again by someone leaving Whitmore. It’s the first Varied Thrush I have seen in quite some time. That made me realize the big difference between the number of thrushes, juncos, and sparrows I saw foraging around the neighborhood and campus last year when it got cold and snow in January-March as compared to this year, when I have seen very few. They either moved south, or numbers are down significantly. It will be interesting to see what warmer weather brings in the coming weeks.

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