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I’m still alive, though this past winter was a hard one. Injuries, the resulting pain, and a bit of depression all kept me from writing for a while, but after a month and a half off my feet and another month and a half getting back on my feet, things are looking up. On top of this progress, the chickadees and mourning doves are singing their summer song and the days are longer. Spring is coming!

This beauty, and his wife, also helped brighten my winter days.

This beauty, and his wife, also helped brighten my winter days.

Before a blizzard dumped a foot and a half of snow on us earlier this winter, I noticed a lot of raven activity over the Wedding Hill, and decided to go see what I could find. Bird tracking may sound improbable, but congregating/feeding ravens spend a lot of time on their feet. A couple of winters ago, when ravens were very active around the house, I discovered a dead, heavily scavenged falcon by the stream. I thought there might also be a carcass in this case, but no. This is what I found:

Ravens are large birds, with large feet--compare with my size 8's!

Ravens are large birds, with large feet–compare with my size 8’s! This raven was traveling in the direction I came from.

Here’s where the raven tracks led:

Manure pile. Hard to see in the photo are canid--specifically, coyote--tracks. I suspect the coyotes were drawn there, as I was, by the raven hubbub. Where a raven is feeding, there's likely to be something a coyote will like, as well.

Manure pile. Hard to see in the photo are canid–specifically, coyote–tracks. I suspect the coyotes were drawn there, as I was, by the raven hubbub. Where a raven is feeding, there’s likely to be something a coyote will like, as well.

The Wedding Hill is leased out to a local dairy farmer, who hays it every summer or fall, and usually also spreads manure on it as well. Birds are often drawn to manure, both for the insects that may be found living in it, and for the undigested grass seeds it may contain. My guess is that the coyotes who followed the ravens to the manure didn’t find it nearly as interesting as the birds did.

Coyote track, center, and raven tracks. The coyote was moving in the same direction I was facing, whereas the raven's path bisected it, running left to right.

Coyote track, center, and raven tracks. The coyote was moving in the same direction I was facing, whereas the raven’s path bisected it, running left to right.

Just a few minutes after I took the photos above, I glanced up at the sound of a raven call and saw that, while my attention was focused downwards, a huge group of ravens had gathered. I watched them for several minutes, despite having been outside in the bitter cold for over an hour. I couldn’t look away—the ravens seemed to be dancing in air.

Ravens wind-dancing.

Ravens wind-dancing.

What’s been happening in your neck of the woods this season?

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