An Unexpected EncounterThe Peregrines and the Crow
by Dan Hartman
March 31, 2016As my boreal owl reserach continues I'm finding the going a little harder than last year. Even though I've identified roughly the same number calling, the frequency of their singing is down 60%. Meaning last year I heard a total of 103 calls. This year I've heard only 30. Subsequently, it's been hard to center in one location.
On Sunday night I was out for an hour or so and heard only two calls. But they were valuable ones. The first came from a area I'd heard calls twice before. That gave me a location to investigate. The second call came from a thick stand of timber and an answering one note call came from the timber to my right.
The next moring I snowshoed into where I heard the second call. I went to the trees I'd heard the single note and almost instantly found a likely nest cavity. Just below the hole floated a feather. Just inside the cavity I discovered a second feather. My first nest of the season!
I then snowshoed into the location of the first call. After 20 minutes or so I reached the bank of the Soda Butte. There is a stand of mixed conifers. I spotted a high cavity. The size looked right. I circled around a bit and finally found a snag with three holes. But that was it. My guess would be the first cavity I found. There were no feathers or any other sign, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
I was climbing back up to the highway when a screaming sound came from above. Looking up I spotted a falcon. In the next few seconds it went into a dive that ended on the slope 75 yards to my left. I snowshoed closer and discovered it was sitting on what appeared to be a crow. As I moved closer a second larger falcon darted at me to pull up at the last moment. I was only carrying a small camera so couldn't get much of a shot. Suddenly the falcon left the ground and the crow flew unsteadily to a lone pine right beside me. There he moved in close to the trunk to hide. The falcons circled closely screaming. Finally they perched in a dead tree nearby. I made it back to my car and got my camera and 300 lens. The falcons let me get close as they seemed only interested in the cowering crow.
As I returned to my car a pygmy owl began calling on the opposite slope.
Driving home, I picked up Cindy and we returned to the falcons. Nothing had changed. The falcon pair still perched in the dead tree staring at the crow. The pygmy was still calling, only had moved farther west.
We waited around for a while but obviously there was a waiting game going on. So we headed back to the cabin.
On The Crow