the Crows of Clayfield (Brisbane)

Subject: the Crows of Clayfield (Brisbane)
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 12:08:34 +1000
The room in which I work is near to a place known locally as 'Eagle Junction'. I've never seen an eagle here, though I guess you could presume that someone once did. Eagle Junction is the hub, in Clayfield, for many, many Torresian Crows. It must be prime territory for the city crow: there's a railway station, a large primary school, a small shopping centre, carparks, a busy road - all abutting and all with rubbish bins & dropped litter - and surrounded by houses and flats. Nearby is the enormous Kalinga Park, through which flows Kedron Brook. There's always two or three of the crows using the tall tree near my window as a perch on which to idle, and gurgle, or from which to call. (From their position, they'd be able to see the crow goings-on above Eagle Junction.) And as I've observed in passing in these emails before, the gutter on the building outside my window provides these birds with water for drinking or dunking scraps into, so I get some good close-up looks at them. Once I played the calls of various Australian corvids out my window, and they did respond. And I have sometimes lately left the crust of a piece of bread on my windowsill, to see what would happen, as these birds seem both smart and neophobic. And yes - a huge bird came in, all black-rustle, in a rapid sweeping-upward ambush of the crust! Recently, I spent a couple of evenings working out where some at least of the Eagle Junction crows roost for the night. I'd though it would be at Kalinga Park, to the north, and as sunset came on I sat in my car at the Junction, then followed the birds as they swept away - yes, to the north. But that first evening I lost them. So on the second try, I cranked the window right down, travelled more slowly, and used my ears(!) - and found the tree, in the backstreets only about halfway between the Junction and the nearest point of the park. This was a spectacular evening. A tall gumtree at a quiet suburban corner with many crows arriving and disappearing into it; the cawing and shuffle of the evening's settling; the gradual appearance, circling, landing of small black groups from every direction; upheavals as clusters of birds burst from the tree, then returned; and one great upheaval when all the birds exploded from the tree as a Kookaburra came into it - they circled and drifted, and came back...; the mystery of some groups of birds seeming to fly past this tree on their way somewhere else to the west; and a ?hierarchy of arrival which I didn't understand, but only observed: some birds waited half an hour in nearby staging trees before, at last-light, finally entering the big roost tree. And the sudden quiet of dark.

Judith L-A
S-E Qld
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