Crows and Ravens and the Dead Sapsucker

P1140232Like intercity gangs, ravens and crows battle for turf in Juneau. The crows ruled Chicken Ridge when we first moved to the neighborhood. They would arrive at sunrise on a late March day like this, each member of their murder screaming taunts at the us from the limbs of Sitka Spruce trees. With this display of verb gang signs they staked out nesting areas for the summer’s crop of fledglings. One year they returned, found one spruce tree missing and never returned. Now a pair of frisky ravens controls our neighborhood skies. Unlike the cranky crows, the ravens tolerate the occasional visit by bald eagles.

P1140225On this morning’s walk we found our old crow neighbors staking out the trees along lower Fish Creek. After chasing off three bald eagles, they infested the little spruce covered island that forms part of the stream’s mouth. We heard but did not see them while circumnavigating the island. The strengthening spring sun robbed the glacier and surrounding mountains of drama but left us warm and content to let the crows rant.

P1140215This first taste of true spring might have affected Aki more than I. She shows little interest in passing dogs, and can only manage a half-hearted roll in the disappearing snow. At the end, I find the body of red breasted sapsucker. Even in death, it manages a spectacular display of red, yellow, and black against its snowy killing ground. Aki pays the corpse little attention but I can’t resist this chance for a close up view of the eye—dark, speckled pupil floating on a pale blue pond.P1140237


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