Friday, February 28, 2014

Crows v. Seagulls: Which Bird is the Baddest?



On our way into a shop near a coastal mall the other day, Dear Wife and I witnessed a full-scale aerial war. It was between seagulls and crows, a bunch of them. I didn't have a chance to take a census, but I would say dozens. I suppose the gulls were more numerous, because, well, they hang out in these parts in force. When we came out a half-hour later, the battle was still raging, and the crows were more than holding their own.

DW figured they were fighting over some delectable goodies in a dumpster. Maybe. Or it could have been simply a contest to settle once and for all which is the baddest bird in beach-mall land.

To tell the truth, I had never paid much attention to the Ali-versus-Frazier similarity of crows-versus-seagulls. But in surfing the Net, I found many reports of these encounters, and even some amusing YouTube videos. One of the most entertaining accounts was on the blog of singer-songwriter Zak Claxton, who wrote up a tale of the tape: Gulls larger, but crows smarter. Gulls have a sharp beak, but the crows have talons (in contrast to the gulls' webbed feet). Gulls may be a bit larger, but the crows are shrewder about recruiting their friends for an unfair fight at the end.

This is how Zak viewed the battles near a beach mall in his own neighborhood:

"I will say one thing: the crows don't f**k around. I regularly see them doing a vicious loop maneuver, going up about 20 feet and then dive bombing the gull at full speed. Add that to the previously mentioned mobbing behavior, and the usual result is that the gull is high-tailing it out of the neighborhood, screaming at full volume, with a couple of crows chasing it off and calling it presumably hurtful names on the way. Also, the crows seem more organized. The gulls tend to cruise in by themselves, but the crows, like some well-trained paramilitary force, stay evenly spaced at various lookout points along treetops, light posts, and electricity poles, waiting for the slightest hint of invasion (and reacting with prejudice when the inevitable gull comes by)."

In one recent moment that will live in infamy, a crow and a seagull formed a combat team. They attacked two white doves of peace released by children standing alongside Pope Francis in Vatican City. It is not clear that either dove survived. Probably they didn't. We can only hope this did not portend what is happening in the Ukraine or Venezuela right now.

Ultimately, because of its intelligence, I would rate the crow as the baddest bird, at least in a match-up with a laughing gull or some other type of seagull. What I wonder is why more sports teams haven't taken the nickname "Crows" -- smart and brave warriors. How would the Washington Crows sound if the football franchise in the nation's capital finally gives up on remaining the Redskins? Crows versus Seahawks: a great match-up.

                                              © Robert G. Holland  2014

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