Dec 07 2009

Passing Through

Published by at 7:32 am under Migration,Water and Shore

Flock of Tundra Swans (photo by Steve Gosser)
I heard them before I saw them.

I was walking by the lake at Moraine State Park yesterday when I heard the whoo-ing of tundra swans in the northwest.  It took me a while to find them overhead because they were white birds against a whitish blue sky and they were very high up.

Through binoculars I counted 24 birds with their leader far ahead of the V.  As I watched, all the birds in the flock – except the leader – cupped their wings and lowered their feet as if to descend to the lake.

The leader kept flying.  “Don’t stop now,” he seemed to say, “We have too far to go.”  The flock regrouped and followed him southeast.

Just passing through.

(photo by Steve Gosser)

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Passing Through”

  1. Alexison 07 Dec 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Kate! My reply is actually not about the beautiful swans pictured here, but about the many crows around oakland. I could not find any contact information for you so I figured this would be the best way to get a response! I am a student at CMU and am doing a project about the group of crows flying through Shadyside and Oakland lately. I was wondering if you had anymore knowledge about the group this year. I read your posts and can’t seem to pin point their route or where they are heading to. If you have any more information I would very much appreciate a response!
    Thanks a lot,
    Alexis

  2. Kate St. Johnon 07 Dec 2009 at 4:05 pm

    The crow flock is a winter phenomenon and the crows are smart. They move the roost around to avoid harassment. Click on my Crows & Ravens category here: http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/category/crows/
    for more info.

    Last Friday, Dec 4, the crows headed for Schenley Heights near the Bloomfield Bridge and gathered near the corner of Bigelow Blvd and Craig St. But that was last Friday. They seem to be roosting in the East End every evening but not the same spot. Last year they eventually chose Polish Hill and the Strip District, then later in the winter they moved across the Allegheny River to Troy Hill.

    I am such a fan of crows that if I have time when I’m on the road and see them flying to the roost I follow them. Lately I’ve been taking the bus so I rely on friends to tell me where the crows are.

    Glad you like them!

  3. Kate St. Johnon 07 Dec 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Aha! 4:22pm. The crows are heading for the same place tonight – or thereabouts.

  4. Alexison 07 Dec 2009 at 4:35 pm

    thank you! i see them out my window right now! i have been filming them the past couple of weeks, but they have been changing their route a lot lately. for the past couple of days they have been flying right by my apartment in shadyside, towards the bloomfield direction, so that makes complete sense. unfortunately, my video project is due tomorrow! so i won’t be able to find their roost for the project, but plan on continuing the project for myself next semester! they seem to be moving faster than usual tonight!

  5. Kate St. Johnon 07 Dec 2009 at 4:38 pm

    They’re late. ;)

  6. Eileenon 11 Dec 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Great capture of the Swans flying over.

  7. Lorraineon 23 Dec 2009 at 9:02 am

    As soon as my garage door opens I hear the crows calling each other because they know it’s time to fill the bird feeders. I do leave some bread for them on the ground.

  8. Lorraineon 23 Dec 2009 at 9:05 am

    Can anyone tell me what happens when I see small birds, usually two, flying (appears to be chasing) a large bird. I saw this when we lived in Florida and I see it here in western PA all the time.

  9. Kate St. Johnon 23 Dec 2009 at 9:14 am

    Large birds (hawks and corvids) often eat the small birds or their nestlings. The small birds fight back by ganging up on their enemies and chasing them away from the area if they can. Chickadees chase blue jays, blue jays chase hawks, and on and on up the food chain. Hope this helps.

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