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Archive for May 13th, 2012

One of the benefits of having my studio located in the woods is the opportunity to watch the wildlife from a fairly close perspective.  I have known all manner of animals over the years, from the mother raccoon and her kits that took up residence for a short time in the roof of my first, more rustic studio further up in the woods, and the everpresent deer that often nap  in the shady lawn outside my studio windows to the coyotes and bobcats that I have captured on my trail cam and have ran across in person, as well. 

I get to see how the animals interact, how they break down into family units and establish order.  How they survive the elements and their habitation among us humans.  Their survival instinct is powerful, a hard thing to see at times but powerful, nonetheless.

Over the years I have witnessed many deer with legs that have been broken, most likely from a misstep or an encounter with a woodchuck hole.  I am always amazed at their ability to persevere and prosper.  There was a doe several years ago who came around with a front hoof dangling, completely broken away from the leg above.  Eventually she lost the hoof completely, leaving a stump.  But it didn’t stop her.  She actually had 3 or 4 fawns over the next few years and it was only when she walked slowly to feed that you recognize that she was missing a hoof.  In full flight, she moved as fast as  the other deer and managed to evade predators and hunters for years.

I currently have a black crow that haunts the pines in front of my studio.  He came to my attention early in the winter.  I saw crow tracks in the snow that went from the studio all the way down the long driveway, about 1/5 of a mile.  I couldn’t understand why a crow would walk throught he snow when he could fly.  This went on for several days until I finally caught a glimpse of him, ambling up the drive.  It was a badly damaged  wing that hung off of his back to one side.  He would walk and hop with real determination and was seldom alone.  There was normally a group of crows that accompanied him, cawing to him from the trees above and sometimes coming down to walk with him.  I got the idea that they sometimes let him know what was ahead or behind, acting as his eyes in the sky.

I thought about trying to capture him and get him to an animal rehabilatation specialist such as the unit at Cornell but he was always quick to spot me and would disappear into the woods with surprising speed.  He was even aware and suspicious  of me when I watched him from my front windows. 

His mobility has improved over the past six months.  He hops quickly and to my surprise has developed the ability to take flight for moments at a time.  Not for very long distances but enough to carry him to low branches of the trees from where he can hop to higher branches.  Once he reaches the top he will glide, without flapping his wings, to a point quite a ways down the drive from where he will commence his walk/hop.

I really admire his grit and evident intelligence.  I have gotten into the habit of putting out for him  the poor small rodents that my studio cat, Hobie, captures and kills in the woods around the place, laying them at  my feet proudly as gifts on a daily basis.  I have watched him and his kin find these small gifts  a number of times and I think he understands the gesture.  Doesn’t make him any less wary of me but that’s okay.  He gets an easy meal and I get to see that the mice and moles go back into the big circle quickly.  Win/win.

Here’s a really nice rendition of Joni Mitchell’s song Black Crow from Diana Krall.  Just right for a Sunday morning.

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