Tom Sherman on Tue, 27 Apr 1999 09:11:10 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> the Third Bird

Imagine a pair of ravens nesting in Kosovo.  True ravens, not jackdaws or
rooks, or hooded or carrion crows... Imagine sitting on a clutch of five
eggs, waiting around all day for your mate to come back from time to time
with some food, when the gray drizzly skies are perpetually full of
thunder.  This particular female chooses never to leave the nest--even
right after she has been fed.  This is unusual, but these are unusual
times.  There are sonic booms rupturing the silence at all hours these
days.  All the animals, even the rodants, are stressed to the limit. 
Miles above the cloud-cover the pilots of NATO aircraft execute their
orders.  Bomb blasts light up the horizon in the evening and the
overlapping, studdering echoes of massive detonations rumble through hills
already trembling in the wet chill of spring.  The female raven minds her
eggs, nervously keeping watch.  The male forages far and wide, gathering
everything it can find to bring back to the nest.  This spring the trees
yield a lot of food--there are abandoned birdnests everywhere.  The
songbirds could not handle the stress and have moved on.  Their cold eggs
are for the taking.  There is also an unusual amount of carrion along the
roads.  There is a third bird, another raven, a two year-old male,
probably born to this same mating pair, in the very same nest, a couple of
years ago.  It roosts in a tree near the nest, half a kilometre closer to
the Binacka River.  This third bird forages with the mature male and helps
protect the territory of the mating pair.  It keeps its distance from the
nest and does not disturb the roosting female.  In the early evening, just
before sunset, the immature male is often very playful and indulges in
upside-down hanging for five or six minutes at a stretch, hanging from one
foot and then the other.  But when it is foraging with the dominate male,
it knows its place.  It is quite a bit smaller and still prefers to follow
the lead of its male parent.  This coming winter, if there will be a
another winter for this third bird, it will look for a mate.

Tom Sherman

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