Virtually all of the seasonal birds – the song birds – have departed for destinations south for the remainder of the year. I’ve been feeling their absence more intensely than I ever anticipated. More on that in an upcoming post.
The remaining birds are those who fly these skies year round: mostly red-tailed hawks, magpies, and ravens.
I wrote recently about ravens, about one who followed my dogs and me as we ran a mountain trail, which got me thinking about ravens in general and their co-dependent relationship with wolves in particular. They’re amazing birds.
A couple nights ago, watching and photographing a pretty sunset from my yard, I was reminded that – unlike me – my Aussie Finn isn’t so fond of ravens. I’m sure that encounter on the trail two years ago didn’t improve his opinion of them. This year, though, Finn started barking at ravens that fly over our house. He doesn’t bark at any other birds, including those resembling ravens that soar above us (turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks). No, Finn knows his ravens and he doesn’t like them.
On this particular night, three ravens had the audacity to fly near our yard. It was a lucky happenstance that they appeared in the photos I took of the sunset.
The herding instinct in Finn came through loud and clear as he barked at the ravens as soon as he spotted them from a distance, flying over neighboring lots. Sometimes – like just happened as I was typing this – he’s inside the house and hears one calling through an open window so he dashes out the dog door to make sure that particular raven or his friends stay out of his/our space. If ravens fly directly over the house or yard, Finn barks while running across the fenced yard area, shooing them, herding them away. In his mind, his efforts are successful because – every time! – they do indeed fly away. Positive reinforcement at its best.
Once the ravens disappear into the forest, Finn relaxes a bit, but remains ever-vigilant in case they return.
So far, it’s only ravens that Finn herds, so I’ve opted to ignore the behavior. Finn is nearly 13; let him have his fun. Although I do remind him that the ravens surely know who he is and where he lives, so he’d better be careful. Conall seems bemused by it all, perhaps because – being so closely related to wolves – he understands the value of a good relationship with ravens.
It truly was a beautiful sunset, made extra-orange by wildfire smoke in the air to the west.