Posts Tagged ‘The Birds’

Black Skies Matter

August 19, 2017

North America’s partially total solar eclipse isn’t due until Monday August 21st, but it seems as though our avian wildlife already knows what’s coming.  I say that because the birds in these here parts are already exhibiting anomalous behavior 48 hours in advance, on Saturday afternoon.  This despite the fact that it’s “officially” National Aviation Day. Here are some examples of bird behavior we don’t usually see (or hear) in my semi-rural environs:

  • total absence of spiraling vultures riding the thermal lifts in the high, wide skies overhead.  This despite the abundance of attractive roadkill deer carcasses littering the grassy margins of our picturesque country lanes … and the vultures aren’t on the ground snacking, either.
  • eerie quiet instead of the regular alarm calls of countless crows.  Occasional cheeps, chirps and tweets from other species hidden in the distant shrubbery, but not the usual cacaphonic conversation you can’t avoid hearing.
  • no visible feeding, and very little flying.  Airborne birds are taking very short-hop flights from tree to tree or shrub to thicket, but no longhaul excursions.  Yesterday evening, under a rainbow that formed in the wake of a slow-rolling storm front, flocks of swallows wheeled through the raindrops and flashed across the fields in golden, oblique sunbeams shining eastward from beneath the trailing clouds.  Not today.
  • more than four dozen mourning doves perched in a long row on roadside power line, facing west across several hundred acres of open fields.  Usually, that kind of a lineup would be an invitation to buffet lunch for the neighborhood red-tailed hawks, but they’re nowhere to be seen.
  • when I visited town earlier in the day, sparrows and pigeons that usually swarm along the main street to pick at lunch leftovers were instead flitting between the shrubs and trees one block to the south, annoying the jays and other usual inhabitants of the area.

Now that I’m once again paying closer attention to the non-human environment, I’ll continue to monitor animal behavior as the eclipse draws nearer.  Ordinarily, I’d only be interested in the effect of a new moon on women’s behavior.  I already know what effect it has on me.

Highwayman’s Hitch

As long as I’m talking about birds, I might as well go on record with an observation that occurred to me a couple of years ago, but which I haven’t previously published in explicit form:

Once you’re able to comprehend Alfred Hitchcock‘s “The Birds” as the tragi-comic pastiche of Sergei Eisenstein‘s “Battleship Potemkin” that it was intended to be, you’ll be in a position to evaluate the enduring influence of Ivor Montagu on Hitchcock’s cinematic oeuvre.

Understand?  Probably not.