Saturday, September 26, 2009

Is My Dog a Better Birder than Yours?

Years ago I was at the Grand Canyon, looking for the Condors.  Suddenly a fellow watcher pointed excitedly to the large, black birds that landed on the concrete ahead of us.  "Wow!  Amazing birds!" the watcher exclaimed.  "Yes," I replied, "beautiful Ravens."  "No, no,"  was the response, "those are the Condors.  I know, because I have raisins [sic] at home and these are much bigger."  I decided not to burst this watcher's bubble--she thought she'd seen the Condors, and who am I to take away her pleasure?

However, my dog would not have made that mistake.  You see, for some reason--inexplicable to me--my dog is afraid of Ravens--Chihuahuan and Common (first photo)--but of no other bird.  The more common identification mistake is, of course, between Ravens and Crows and that's one that Gelert (my dog) never makes.

When the Common Ravens perch on the wire that extends over our backyard and call away at him, he comes running to either me or my husband.  Yet American Crows (second photo) can come right up to him and he is not at all phased.  Recently, we were in the presence of both American Crows and Ravens almost all the time, and without fail Gelert came running when a Raven was near.  Is it the size?  Or the call?  Or perhaps some other animal instinct?  I don't know, but I have to say that I enjoy watching his discerning reaction.

What would he do with a Condor?  Well, I have yet to find out, but if he sees one before I do, I'll be the one running away (in misery)!
Gelert, in the presence of American Crows.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your entries so far. Keep up the good work because you're helping some others as well in identifying the birds we see.