Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Eagle, the Crow, and the Magpie

            Out my office window this morning, I enjoyed the drama playing out on the ridge above the house.

            The cows were fed, and yesterday’s rain left it too wet for farming, so it was time to pay bills - I was back at my computer.

            Magpies are common in Montana.  They are big, they are smart, and they are omnivorous.  They like dog food, and they like to play with the dogs.

            A magpie will swoop down to the dog-bowl and steal some of his food, then fly to the top of a nearby tree to gloat.  The dog will chase him and bark, until the bird swoops down again, and leads the dog to another, higher tree.  If the dog becomes bored with his barking, the magpie will swoop down again, and lead the dog to another tree.

            As I looked out this morning, there were a magpie and a bald eagle sitting in a tree some 300 yards away.  By the time I got my camera, of course, the birds had taken flight.  When I again spotted the now-airborne eagle, he was accompanied by a crow.  I tried to read the story.

            Had the eagle found the crow’s nest?  Was the crow trying to divert the eagle away? 

            Crows, like magpies, are known to be intelligent.  Was this crow just playing with the eagle as the magpie was playing with the dog?

            I watched for a while, trying to understand the nature of the drama playing out above me.  The eagle circled higher and higher – the crow always nearby.  I was reminded of a bomber being harassed by a fighter-plane. 

            The eagle seemed rather bored by the whole affair, and eventually floated off up the West Boulder River and out of sight – the crow still in pursuit.