It’s a Moider! Moider, I Tells Ya!

Actually, it’s a double-feature! We’ve also got Blue Heron Noir. Stay tuned after the film!

B brought turkey over for Thanksgiving. He arrived just at dusk (which is 4 bloody 30 in the pee-em at this time of year), which is when the local crows begin gathering before they head off to roost. The roads, trees, and ball fields begin looking like an Alfred Hitchcock film. B’s never seen quite so many at once, so he came bouncing in wanting to go walk with corvids. I was totally down with that.

So we headed down to the creek, where clouds of corvids flew overhead, and turned the trees black.

Image shows a few crows clinging to the tops of poplar trees.
They even flock to poplar trees, although the branches are super-skinny and it’s really hard to get a grip.

They also fill the ball fields. Alas, it was so close to dark, it was hard to get a good shot, but we tried.

Image shows a baseball field with a murder of crows upon it.
I don’t think they’re playing ball…

We gotcha enough footage for a wee video. It’ll give you some small idea of what it’s like to be walking down a path between trees full of hundreds of cackling crows. The sound is just overwhelming, and the motion as they wheel overhead is exhilarating. It can either scare the shit out of you, or it can make you feel like you’re a little kid again, and leave you nearly screaming in delight.

We might’ve gotten you more clouds of crows if we’d been brave enough to actually agitate them, but we’re not planning on moving away any time soon, and corvids tend to remember people who annoy them. We like to stay on their good side.

After filming our moiderous film, we finished a fairly brisk walk along the creek, and found ourselves coming back in the dark. The ducks had gone to bed. But we heard a rather large-sounding rustle on the riverbank, and a bit of a splash. There wasn’t quite enough light to make out what it was, but B suspected a blue heron. Since blue herons and ducks aren’t reputed to hold grudges against people who piss them off, I decided to risk a wee bit o’ flash photography. I pointed the flash away from the UFD, so as not to interrupt it too badly, and took a chance.

Image shows a vaguely-illuminated heron standing in the creek.
Heron Noir

Blue herons are badass. This one didn’t even twitch. It gave precisely zero shits. I had no idea their eyes reflect like that, but I suppose if they’re out fishing at night, it makes sense they’ve got something to make their night vision better. Is it a tapetum lucidum? My google-fu was inadequate to the task of determining for certain. Perhaps one of you know – ya’ll are better at birds than I am.

I’m arse-deep in books to review, B and I will be working on some fun little geologically-themed gifties for the holidays, and I may brave the crowd at Staples later and see if they have any nifty desktops at a price I can afford. I’ll probably return. Probably.

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It’s a Moider! Moider, I Tells Ya!
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3 thoughts on “It’s a Moider! Moider, I Tells Ya!

  1. rq
    1

    Nice shot of the heron!
    As for the flashing eyes, I’m pretty sure all lensed eyes reflect in some way, including birds’ eyes. Different animals’ eyes reflect in different ways, and I can identify most animals I encounter driving home at night simply from the colour of this reflection.
    The effect is called tapetum lucidum. (Raccoon eyes, though, contrary to the article, are more red than green. And foxes are orange.)

  2. 2

    Here ya go, I think:

    Great Blue Herons can hunt day and night thanks to a high percentage of rod-type photoreceptors in their eyes that improve their night vision.

    Source: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/great_blue_heron/lifehistory

    Did you know there’s another species of heron that’s nocturnal? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-crowned_night_heron

    And that was a LOT of crows. I wonder if they were gathering in the field because a storm was coming, as it seems to have done this morning. I’ve certainly seen seagulls do that.

  3. 3

    What a great gang of crows!!! Makes me wonder if any of them have ever sat in my trees during the summer. No crows here for a couple of months. And I’m not quite far north enough to get many ravens.

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