Tuesday, June 13, 2006

 

Wildlife on Vancouver Island: Fowl

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The eagle-sighting on our first day may well have been a harbinger for our most dramatic wildlife encounter. It started innocently enough over a basket of deep fried oysters and fries at Shakies Oyster Shack, a seaside takeout spot popular with surfers and lumberjacks.

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Shakies, just across the road from the surfer's beach in Jordan River, BC.


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I swear, on my family bible, it went down this way. B and I sat with our meal on the picnic table in front. A black bird, probably of the corvidae family (B said a "crow," I said a "raven," but maybe you could help us out from the pictures) flew into the yard and started ambling around a short distance away. Soon it was joined by a second.

When a third bird flew in a couple of minutes later, I said:
"If one more joins them, then I think we've got a situation."
Sure enough one did. While I didn't think four birds could take us, it did seem possible that two could distract us by, say, flapping around our faces, while the other two made off with the fried oyster basket. The bigger concern, of course, was that more would join, and things would really get ugly.
"Hey," I asked B, "where was The Birds supposed to have taken place?"
"I don't know," she said. "The X-Files was shot over in Vancouver, though."
Then there were five.

It was weird. The five black birds were sort of milling around expectantly. If they were squawking at us directly, I think maybe I could have handled that. But the way they self- consciously avoided looking at us unnerved me. I felt I was getting the bird eye, but every time I looked up at one of them, it would bob its head away and scratch at the dirt.

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Five birds, a definite situation. Note the seemingly random, nonchalant gazes.

Then there were six.
"Are you almost done?" I said.
"I'm still working on these fries," said B.
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Six. Count 'em -- six!

I looked nervously at the crowd of birds. What were they waiting for? How many did they need before they would make their move?
"You know about animals," I said to B. "Do ravens travel in, er... gangs?"
"They're crows," she said.
A seventh bird landed in the yard. And at this point, one of them -- the ringleader -- just started walking up to the table.

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The ringleader approaches, lower left.

Was he dissing us? I think I knew what was coming. I've seen it before: he'll sort of toy with us while his buddies slowly formed a circle around us. Perhaps try to "bum" a couple of fries and then pretend to be offended whatever our response, to trump up a pretext for violence.

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Abruptly, B snapped into action: standing up and facing the bird posse, she waved her arms wildly and shouted "scram!"

They scattered like ... like scared birds, I guess. But they didn't fly away. In fact, as soon as we finished our meal and left the table, they came back -- and took over the place.

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It's a rough crowd at Shakies.

Comments:
Ravens/crows travel in a murder. A murder of crows. Pretty much sums it up for me.
 
Dang, Mariam, you beat me to it :)

I've also got a "children's book" with a poem that describes the various omens brought about by specific numbers of crows/ravens (but I don't have it on hand right now to perform the oracle for you)

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obrgq - (o-brag-kew) Waiting for your turn to boast.
 
I love how they are all looking in different directions. Good thing B scared them away. They were probably just acting as lookout for a giant picnic table sized crow who would be dropping from the sky at any moment.
 
One Crow is ill news
Two Crows mirth
Three Crows a wedding
Four Crows a birth
Five Crows for riches
Six Crows a thief
Seven Crows a journey
Eight Crows for grief
Nine Crows a secret
Ten Crows for sorrow
Eleven Crows for true love
Twelve's a new day tomorrow

since you're ON a journey... 7 crows seems rather appropriate :)

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geggyn - (1) "get going" (in a lazy vernacular)
(2) a female gargoyle
 
The French had a saying that evil priests became crows, and bad nuns became magpies.

You seem to have an entire monastery.

wpk

ewoet -- you owe it (to yourself to have a good time)
 
You're well north of The Birds. That was Bodega Bay in Northern California.
 
i'm dating a guy who knows birds. he's pretty sure you were surrounded by northwestern crows.
 
I too say it's crows. Crows are rather surprisingly big birds (of which we have large numbers around this house, so I'm becoming an expert on them). Ravens are insanely huge. Visit them at the Tower of London some day -- some day in the distant future when they're released from protective custody. (Bird flu quarantine, you know).

BTW when I googled [hitchcock birds] to check whether it was in Bolinas (no) or Bodega, I was pleased to see

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Hitchcock Birds
Whatever you're looking for
you can get it on eBay.
www.eBay.com

kcjbkdru, kick Job's kid's rump, adding insult to boils.
 
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