Jumpy Birds


The flooding tide just displaced this murder of crows from an offshore bar. They regrouped on a lumpish rock thirty feet from where Aki and I emerge from the woods. My dog ignores the crows, as she tends to do with corvids except for our neighborhood ravens, which act like her teasing cousins. One by one the crows launch into the air. A small one keeps a look out while the rest line up like jets waiting to take off at the Seattle airport. I wonder if this organized nonchalance is designed to hide fear.


The ducks and scoters are definitely jumpy. There were two rafts of mallards when we arrived but one group panicked into a short flight to join up with the other. Now they hang close to shore while one of their number cackles in way that would suggest insanity in a human. The party colored harlequin ducks are quick to dive until driven to flight by the appearance of a bald eagle overhead. This sets some mergansers off and into the air.


The eagle pulls back its talons and skulks back to its spruce roost. I want to hang around and watch micro bursts of wind push small waves through the ducks’ formations but Aki whines. She has a point. It’s blowing hard, a wind that propels raindrops like missiles. I followed her into the woods where the storm hums through the canopy and we have to climb over a hemlock tree downed by the last windstorm.



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