But First; The Fable of the Crow and the Peacock;
An old, educational, cautionary tale you can find on the internet.
But, just in case you don't have time to find it, here's the old plot:
A crow became enamored by the fancy feathers and the dancing of a peacock. He wished he could be as beautiful, so he hit on a plan. He followed the peacock around, picking up fallen feathers and sticking them into his tail. After all this trouble he tried to attend the dance of the peacocks. The peacock dance gatekeeper told him it really didn't work and he should probably leave.
So he went home with his tail between his legs. "So to speak".
When he arrived at his own flock the wise old Resident Crow told him to be happy with the clever bird he already was, and forget trying to imitate someone else.
Good advice, probably also for us humans.
Even as old as that tale is, the author knew how exceptionally clever crows, and their extended family members around the world, actually are. Their ability to learn, plan, connect with others, and pass their knowledge to each other is amazing. Some are even problem solvers. Of course, so are fish, so let's not get too awestruck with crows, OK?
But that old fable is not the subject of this real life experience. So now let's go on to a real-life crow adventure. A story that is true, with very little serious application to the human condition. We will be discussing Crows, Robins, Doves, small birds and the Galactic Vortex.
A true story from the backyard; not a fable: Crows are an interesting bird, probably the most widely recognized member of the Corvidae family. Ravens and other crow-family offshoots are also members of that same family.
Ravens, however, are much larger and slightly different in color and appearance from crows. Most of our Ravens shop up in the mountains but come on down to lower elevations for the winter. They are rather regal fellows. I call them fellows because I can't tell the girls from the boys. And I'd never be so presumptious as to "check" one, because I respect their privacy.
Ravens are mysterious problem solvers. Mother Nature told them to scavenge also, just like the crows. You might ask that old story teller E.A. Poe about ravens. But not late at night before bedtime, though, OK?
But back to Crows now.
Crows are clever, smart, noisy, and interesting to observe. More than one university's research has proven crows can remember human faces if the face has significance to the crow's social situation. Such as being a known or possible opponent they might have lost an argument with. Some people even claim to have crows for pets. They wake up too early and start making noise for me to want one for a pet. But you just go ahead and do whatever you want to.
In spite of their cleverness however, they can from time to time be serious pests when they decide to not do their appointed jobs of cleaning up accidents out there on the highway and the outback.
Working together as a birdville home-invading criminal gang, they can be aggressive and rude toward other birds.
Criminal-minded crows even kidnap fledgling juveniles of other birds right out of their nests. Then eat them alive or haul them off to feed on later. They also steal then drop the eggs from other bird's nests onto the ground to break them, and then eat the yolk. Or the developing embryo, as the case may be.
Crows are the original Oologists on this planet. They know exactly when to harvest the fat of the yolk or the protein of the embryo. Some members of the crow family are regular birdville criminals.
Doesn't Mother Nature have a 911 number? Or maybe a friend?
Some people get all upset about crows killing off the gentle back yard birds. I just always figured they're playing their part in the animal kingdom. Kind of like those obnoxious kleptoparasitic hyenas. So it's unlikely I'd normally pay much attention to a flock of crows attacking other gentle songbirds. Driving them from their nests, eating their babies alive and stealing warm eggs. Everyone has to make a living.
Heck, while driving on the roadway I even slow down and stop, or carefully drive around, poor old rattlesnakes slithering across the road. Honest; I do that for them every time.
You never know what there is on the other side of the road that is worth all the effort and pain for him to wiggle across that hot blacktop. And it gives you some time to reflect on the good luck that did not make you be a snake, slithering across someone's hot blacktop highway trying to find a bite to eat. So be nice to the snakes also. Mother Nature is watching. She has friends. Don't irritate them.
Anyway back to Birdville and the invading crows.
Four years ago there was a robin family in trees out in the back yard. They were a happy little family. They made nice chirping noises, and both birds worked all day to tend their babies. We would watch the robins pulling earthworms out of the grass then hurry to fly back home with the wiggling lunch menu to feed their babies. Made us smile a lot.
We placed seeds and water for the birds every day, just like we had been doing the prior winter. When we watered the yard the robins would hustle down and find red night crawlers wiggling up out of the water. The robins preferred fresh worms to our seeds. They must have liked wiggling protein dishes more than veggies and grains.
There were also two families of doves living in trees in the back yard, doing their same family job as the robins. The doves didn't hunt for worms but they ate lots of seeds. They're quite interesting and very pleasant to watch. They are very polite with all the other little birds, but when they flap their large wings to go to another feeding spot it scares the little ones. So the little ones fly up in the air suddenly then fly back down to feed again. Little birds are just nervous, you know.
The robins, doves, and other birds get along famously, never getting in each other's way at all, and they share the food while lunching right alongside each other. Oh yes; sometimes there is another old gentle bird and his mate called Blue Jay. They are also nice with the little birds so we put suet out for them. The little birds and doves don't like suet, but Blue Jays do. People of Earth should get along as well.
Suddenly that year, four years ago, a flock of crows, probably six or eight strong, moved into the neighborhood, making a lot of terrible, bird-scaring noises. They would gang up and chase the robins and doves off their nests then invade the bird homes, kidnap the fledglings and eggs. They would drop the eggs on the ground, eat the yolks, and tear apart the fledglings for a quick morning crow-snack. Sometimes they fought over the best parts. Crows have bad table manners; really bad. I was sure glad they were not in our back yard. Sometimes they would just kidnap the fledglings and haul them off, while the kidnapped babies were chirping desperately for help. At least, that's what it sounded like: "Mommy, Daddy, help me please". But the bird parents were too afraid of the bigger, meaner crows to help their babies.
How would you feel if that happened to your baby and you couldn't do a solitary thing about it while watching the hooded criminals carry off your crying baby? A regular crow criminal gang crime spree right there in our quiet neighborhood. Felonies were what those crows started practicing that year. Hurry; 9-1-1 Mother Nature, a kidnap-murder case is underway!!! Have her send a bird friend, quick!!!
I walked out to the back yard when I heard all the yelling and cawing. I looked out over our fences and asked them what they were doing. I told them their assigned crow job from Mother Nature was out on the highway cleaning up roadkill, not messing with the small, weak birds. They didn't reply, just shut up for a minute and looked over the fence at me with obvious disdain. Possibly a hint of arrogance in their crow attitude. Then they started their noisy conversation again. Their haughty attitude irritated me just a bit at first. But I soon got over it and walked back to the shop where I had been before the entire racket began. I figured Mother Nature's friends would take care of business sooner or later. The crows had ignored Rule #1.
The invading crows finally came fully into our own yard and started harassing the robins and doves right in their nesting trees. It was somewhat irritating to watch these criminals terrorizing the backyard gentle bird population. But then, I figured that Mother Nature always has a way to take care of her innocent little creatures. She'll think of something, I figured. She does have a sense of humor.
And friends; she does have friends. Pay attention, crows; don't forget the friends.
Soon one crow, while sucking the yolk from a broken robin egg he had dropped on the ground, must have had a heart attack. Sure enough; it had to be some kind of heart attack. There was suddenly a "snap" noise that I heard from somewhere. Kind of like a very dry twig, maybe the size of your finger, snapping crisply. And the criminal yolk-sucking crow suddenly fell over sideways onto the grass.
He flopped around on the grass for a few seconds, making his crow noises less and less, before lying still quietly. He had obviously entered his next realm of existence. All the other crows raised a terrible noise as they frantically got into flight and hurried away from what must have been a galactic crow-eating vortex. Maybe that now-dead yolk-sucking criminal crow told the others about the Galactic Vortex. "Get out fast, guys; it's the Vortex!", He must have said loudly.
Anyway, for the next three years after the sudden appearance of the galactic crow-sucking vortex, the robins, doves, Blue Jays and other birds enjoyed the food and water in our back yard. Somehow the vortex never did bother them. They all got along with each other and were not feathered criminals like the crows. Mother Nature's friends must know the difference. As does that old crow-hunting Galactic Vortex.
The little birds raised their families, crafted their nests, ate their food, drank and splashed in the fresh cool water, enjoyed their lives, and the solitary peace of our back yard.
It is said that all good things must have an end. And so it was this year with the peace and tranquility enjoyed for the past three years by the gentle little birds.
Again, this year, another "murder" of those crows started moving into the back yard in January. (There you go, ornithologists; the proper term for a flock of crows). Red alert, Red alert; call Mother Nature again!! The murdering kidnapping egg-eating fledgling murdering murder of crows has arrived again to terrorize the little birds.
Actually the crows started out this year a block away when I first heard them, so I kept track of where they were each day. They circled closer and closer every day until they noisily surrounded our property, but just outside the fences. Rather strange, I thought. They'd sit and make their raucous noise, sometimes all cawing at the same time, just looking into our yard. A very noisy affair indeed.
At first, however, for maybe three days, they roosted in the neighbor's yards and on the power lines just outside our property. I would walk out to the yard and do small tasks without looking directly at them but noticing they always watched me closely. I wondered what they were thinking; just making their noise, fluttering from limb to limb and wire to wire. Looking surreptitiously into our back yard, watching me do this and that. We were surrounded by crows. I remembered that Hitchcock movie; "The Birds". Weren't they also eye-pecking crows?
I finally walked out and asked them what they had in mind, and why they were surrounding our back yard. I told them there were already several bird families nesting and feeding their babies, so there were no more vacancies in our yard. Those crows just sat there looking at me, cawing their arrogance, forgetting "Rule Number One" again. They were being quite rude it seemed, for not answering my questions. But I soon got over that. Mother Nature's problem, you know.
Then one day, just like four years ago, they moved fully into our yard, and into the resident trees with various bird houses, eggs and fledglings. The crows screamed their threats loudly, scaring the birds off their nests where they had been caring for their babies and eggs. The only good thing was that it seemed there were fewer molesters this time. Perhaps only four or five this time, maybe six.
The crows, screaming their raucous threats, chased the robins and doves off their nests and out of their trees. The crows were obviously after the eggs and fledglings again. Well, at least, that's what it appeared to be.
I wasn't paying much attention. I just figured it was Mother Nature's problem, you know. What the heck; she'll probably have one of her friends take care of it if there is any problem.
One of those crows suddenly, while perched on a limb and looking into the robin's home, yelling his beak off, apparently had a heart attack. It must have been that old Galactic Crow-Vortex reopening. Whatever it was, suddenly there was a "snap" sound just like four years ago. That old egg-sucking, baby-eating crow dropped like a rock into the grass below. Dead as a mackerel, not even flopping around and yelling like that one four years ago had done. Just dived quitely into crow heaven where there is lots of roadkill. Or, you never know he might have gone to that other place; after all he was diving "down".
Another crow jumped onto the same limb the recently departed one had been on. For some reason, which escapes human understanding, that branch must have been some kind of alpha-crow preferred limb. Crow numero-dos must have figured numero-uno had abandoned the preferred alpha limb. Great luck for numero-dos, he must have thought, as he landed on the preferred limb.
He fluffed out his feathers, showing off his physique, and resumed his noisy threats of hate and savagery against the backyard birds. Hurry; 911 Mother Nature, they need help.
Suddenly, without warning of any kind, there was another "snap" sound. It must have been that old galactic crow-chomping vortex again, because numero-dos also had a heart attack. He dropped to the ground, flopping around on his way down, yelling his displeasure at the Galactic Vortex. He even sounded like he might have been swearing a bit. Whatever it was that he was yelling it was certainly not polite at all. Deadsville for that crow also, just before he finally hit the ground.
Immediately that murder of crows, only three or four in number now, took frantic flight and went somewhere fast. Screaming what sounded like a crow version of four-letter words at the Vortex. They obviously missed that lesson regarding cussing at Mother Nature.
That was quite some time ago and there have been no more crows harassing the robins or doves in the back yard this year.
Crows are smart; they instinctively know where the galactic heart-attack crow-vortexes are, and they pass that knowledge on to at least two generations. That opinion offered by the universities is verified by my own observations in our little back yard birdville.
Amazing, actually; how does a generation of crows pass their survival knowledge to the next two generations? Is it in their DNA, or do they actually talk to each other?
I hate to see crows falling over dead like that. But, on the other hand, there are two crow-seasons here; early spring and late summer. But I won't tell you the recipe for roasted crow; that's a whole different subject. And you probably wouldn't want any roasted crow anyway. It's kind of a survival dish, reserved for mountain men. And, perhaps, those of us with a touch of DNA from the Pleistocene Epoch.
But that old crow-snatching galactic-vortex making a brief appearance did make the other little birds quite happy. When the vortex "snap" sent those invading crows to the happy roadkill hunting highway in the sky the other birds got happy immediately. Or, maybe those bad old crows caught the whirlwind and went somewhere else. Who knows?
Within a day after the crows left, the little birds were all back to their normal schedule and all this year's fledglings and eggs survived the temporary tumultuous yard invasion of the murdering murder of criminal nest-invading, egg-sucking, fledgling-kidnapping noisy crows in Backyard Birdville, so maybe they will stay gone for another three years again.
And please, whoever you are that ratted me out last time; don't show that sentence to Prof. Shigley. She's a nice lady and I hate to see her getting all upset like that.
Quite interesting, you know, how Mother Nature, with a faint "snap" of her fingers, can put everything right again.
And that's the story of the Crows, Robins, Doves and that mysterious crow-gobbling Galactic Vortex that sometimes visits the neighborhood.
But, it seems, only when the crows invade Backyard Birdville.
This one is much removed from the above story, and has nothing at all whatsoever to do with any crows. Nothing at all! "Honest Injun!"
A "Public Service Announcement".
Our local Wildlife Federation does a lot of work for firearm safety. Air rifles are exceptionally well suited for teaching firearm safety to children as well as adult beginners. Lots of adults simply enjoy air rifles, and there are a lot of valid reasons why. They are even an item with international shooting competition. Do not underestimate the excellent firearm safety training available with the use of air rifles and NRA firearms instructions. Are classes free at BEWF? Yes, of course.
My Dad used an old Red Ryder air rifle, with BB's for ammunition, and never missed a grasshopper munching on his garden. He would spend time every evening during the garden season eliminating those voracious pests, one by one. One BB; one grasshopper, sent by Dad to that happy grasshopper munching grounds somewhere in the sky. Or perhaps over the River Styx.
My Dad gave me my first Red Ryder on my birthday when I was eight years old. Quite a fine present and he used it to guide me through firearms safety and training for several years. Then, on my 16th birthday he gave me my first "real" rifle; a beautiful Savage Model-99 Lever-action in .300 Savage caliber. I didn't harvest a deer that year, but Dad made a fine shot with an old 30-40 Krag. We had venison that year.
But back to the Winchester 77SX air rifle.
The Winchester 77SX Air Rifle is a fine piece licensed from Daisy. It uses BB's or 17-cal pellets; your choice. It is exceptionally accurate, capable of repeated bullseyes from sixty feet. BB's, not so good, but pellets are definitely three-inch bullseye accurate with the 77SX.
The pump lever allows you to choose the velocity of the projectile; pumps up to ten provide increasing velocity. I normally use three pumps, and never have used more than five pumps on longer targets.
You load the projectiles in the groove below the center of the 'scope. "Load one, shoot one". Fifty BB's can be stored in the BB-well if you prefer, then you can chamber them by just cycling the charging lever.
Make sure you use the proper loading-pumping-safety sequence both for proper action of the Winchester 77SX and for proper safety.
Unlike other air-powered rifles, this one is exceptionally quiet. Actually it makes a surprisingly modest, unusual noise when activated. I have fired several other "BB-guns" over the years and they each make a definite, individual sound. One break-barrel in my shop sounds just like a .22-cal Rifle. I shot one pellet, cleaned it, put it away. Way too noisy.
So the unusual, unexpected, quiet report the first time I fired the Winchester was quite a surprise.
Some might confuse it with the snapping sound of a small dry twig.
And it won't 'break the bank' like some do. Available for much less than a C-note at many of your local hardware outlets, farm stores, big-box places, or online at reliable vendors such as Pyramid Air.
Or you can just Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo, the term "Winchester 77XS Air Rifle" to find other reviews. No quotes of course.
There is nothing wrong with the included "scope", just sight it in and it stays tight. Or use the original iron sights; they are very good also. For target acquisition, iron sights are usually much faster than a scope.
Use quality ammunition for your air-rifle, follow the safety and maintenance instructions, keep it clean, and enjoy it for years. http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Winchester_77XS_Multi_Pump_Air_Rifle/2936
Well, thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoyed this bird story.
Hey, ... wait a minute ... did you hear that ... what was it ??? It sounded like a swearing murdering murder of old crows yelling bad words at the little birds somewhere.
Probably out there in the back yard. I'll just get a cold can of diet coke from the fridge, mosey on back there, relax in a lawn chair, and see if that old crow-gobbling Galactic Vortex might be moving back in. If it is, I'll just sit there, sip my coke, mind my own business, and watch what happens, just like always before.
But before I leave you wondering, here is a page from the Utah State Wildlife Division regarding the hunting of Crows; American Crows. Of course, wherever you are from, check your current State Proclamation:
Hunting American Crow In Utah: (Check your State DWR Rules)
And for several possible recipes, just Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo with the term;
"recipe for roasted crow".
Minus the quotes of course.
Now Y'all have a very nice day, Y'hear?