"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ravens 1, Vultures 0

I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, about 30 miles north of Fresno. We have ravens here. No crows, just ravens. We also have vultures, turkey vultures, actually. Both species of birds are what I call the garbage men of the wild. They scavenge on roadkill and naturally dead animals. I appreciate them for their helpful niche in nature.

The other day I was on my patio and observed something that I thought was both quite interesting and amusing. Here’s what I saw.

I noticed a vulture come lazily circling into my view. It had something in its beak about the size of a ground squirrel without its tail, maybe a gopher, maybe roadkill, maybe some part of a larger dead animal.

Following that vulture came about a dozen more. All of them making big lazy circles in the sky, not flapping their wings. The vulture with the bit of, well, I’ll just call it roadkill, in its beak became the center of the circling. This was about 200 feet above the ground and about 100 yards north of me.

Then I heard the raucous call of a raven. I saw two of them flying among the vultures. Now comes the interesting and amusing part.

One of the ravens attacked the vulture with the roadkill. (Smaller birds can out-maneuver larger birds and will attack them.) I saw the raven peck the vulture on the head. The vulture dropped whatever it was in its beak. I saw it falling through the air. Then I saw one of the ravens, I don’t know which one, dive on that roadkill and grab it with its right foot right there in mid-air. That was amazing, I thought.

After three or four attempts, the raven transferred the roadkill to its beak. By now it had been joined by the other raven and they flew off, in no hurry, to the south. The buzzards did not chase after them. They just kept circling lazily in the air for a while, then slowly the group broke up and went their separate ways.

No comments: