I've been on a trip.
Some call it a vacation.
It's good to be back.
Dear Gary: We have a murder of thug crows in our neighborhood.
I've seen them rob nests of smaller birds and eggs and fight and win with gopher snakes but nothing like last Saturday.
I was working on my front lawn and heard several crows squawking and alarming. I looked up and saw three crows chasing and attacking a Cooper's hawk about 10 feet or so above ground. One of the crows had managed to get its beak either into the neck feathers or on the neck of the hawk itself.
The hawk was flying and trying to shake off the crow on its neck, and the other two crows were in pursuit about a foot or so away from the two birds locked in combat.
As they got closer to me, I could see the crows were trying to push the hawk to the ground. They were flying lower and lower, on a course to hit me.
I had to hit the deck to avoid being hit. The crows and hawk then swooped upward after I yelled. The hawk disengaged itself from the attacking crow, yet the crows continued the chase.
The hawk was faster and fled the scene.
Never seen anything like that episode.
Nature at its best.
Dear Bob: As you've probably guessed by now, crows and predators are mortal enemies.
Predatory birds like that Cooper's hawk are good at computing the odds and usually head for the hills when they spot a bunch of crows flying in their direction.
Sounds like that hawk was on the losing end of the battle. Your yell probably saved its life.
I also live in Benicia, as I'm sure you know, and I think we've met that rowdy bunch of crows.
We have a cherry tree growing in our backyard and whenever my wife, Lois, went out to pick cherries this spring, three crows perched on top of the tree and screamed at her and threatened to dive down and peck her on the head because they wanted the cherries.
Lois refused to back down from those crows.
Nothing, not even a murder of thug crows, is going to get between my wife and her breakfast of fresh cherries and yogurt.
Dear Gary: We are growing sunflower plants from seed.
Just about when the heads started to form, lesser goldfinches arrived and pecked at the soft leaves, sometimes leaving only the midrib.
No other food, like caterpillars or aphids, is on the leaves, and the damage is not caused by anything like leaf-cutting bees.
It seems the birds are taking away the leaf fragments.
Dear Duncan: Nope. They eat the sunflower leaves.
Apparently those leaves are pretty tasty. I also see them munching on the sunflowers in my backyard.
Dear Gary: I wrote you earlier about our lack of hummers this year.
Well, they are back fighting and feeding so we are happy now!
Thanks for your advice and concern.
Sonny and Marie Fite,
Dear Sonny and Marie: That's great! I'm hearing the same kind of thing from a lot of other people.
Looks like the hummingbirds are starting to return ... at least in some areas.
Don't stop now!
Contact Gary Bogue at email@example.com, or write Gary at P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.