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This morning when I went out to feed our stray cat, I heard the most deep-throated and raucous "CAW!" sounds coming from up the street. I paused for a moment, thinking, "That sounds like a raven," but of course, there aren't ravens in Phoenix (they stay mostly up-state), so I assumed it was a northern-traveled mockingbird. The sounds continued, so I walked down the front path and saw, standing in a line on the top of the office building at the end of the block, a line of approximately seven HUGE black birds. I blinked a few times. Another CAW! and, one by one, they took off and flew out of sight.

I'm wearing my new glasses, so I can see at a distance now. These birds were enormous, even a block away. And only once before have I seen ravens in Phoenix (or rather, Tempe). No wonder people thought they were ominous.

Speaking of birds, the starlings have landed in Tempe. They used to pretty much flock only in the downtown Phoenix area, staying mostly around the I-17 area, but they've been spreading. The other day as I was leaving work, the grass around the Fountainhead Park office building was black with them (where the ducks used to be). Now the grackles have someone else to play with. :)


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2005 09:07 pm (UTC)
Counting Crows
Ravens usually don't make the "caw" sound exactly, but if they're gigantic, they're ravens. About the size of a hawk? Scraggly feathers under the chin? That's a raven. Crows can get pretty big, but not that big.

Seven is for a secret never to be told. ;-P

I've only seen one raven in the Phoenix area in my whole life. He was soaring over our complex, scaring the pigeons silly, and making a sad "ruac!" sound. I think he had been blown away from his flock and was confused about where he was.

Jul. 16th, 2005 12:09 am (UTC)
Re: Counting Crows
Well, okay, a "RAUC" sound, then. I couldn't see them clearly enough to know for sure, but between the size and the sound, my guess was ravens. Of course I know what they look like -- I've been in the mountains outside of town often enough. :)

And while siting them is indeed rare, it would be even more rare to see crows, which I've never seen in Phoenix at all, whereas I have seen a raven or two.

Still, it was just before sunrise and it's possible they were grackels, just looked bigger than normal from the distance. But they were perched on the top of that office building at the end of the street, and I would think even a full-sized 18-inch grackel wouldn't look that big.

I suppose I'll never know, now, unless it was a Serious Portent, or something. :)
Jul. 15th, 2005 11:39 pm (UTC)
I completely forgot to write about the crows this morning.

There were four crows fighting over somehting up on this metal cap on the chimney of the house next to the place where I catch the bus. I don't know that the cap thing is supposed to be called. It keeps rain from going down the chimney and has grating around the side to prevent birds from building nests inside.

Anyway, it acted like a sounding board, making every CAW! twice as loud as usual.
Jul. 16th, 2005 12:10 am (UTC)
I love birds. :)
Jul. 17th, 2005 01:58 am (UTC)
Just how big were they? Ravens always make me think of George R.R.Martin and "A Song of Ice and Fire" now. Those books are insidious. And wonderful.
Jul. 17th, 2005 06:34 am (UTC)
From the distance (about two blocks and four stories), they looked large enough to be ravens -- that slightly squareish, "heavy shouldered" look that ravens have. But again, it was early morning, so I can't testify to it. But I've seen ravens close up and know how large they can be. But a great-tailed grackle can get up to 18" long, which is =nearly= as long as a raven (although not as heavy-appearing), and without a side-by-side contrast, birds can be tricky to place without visual markings or binoculars. I didn't notice the tails when they took off, so I'm still leaning toward raven over grackle. A lot of the length of a great-tailed grackle is, of course, the tail. :)

I haven't read any George R.R. Martin (sheepish look).
Jul. 17th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
Martin's amazing. I'm rereading the first three (well, I was - I'm done now) in preparation for the fourth coming out in November, and my father was poo-pooing them when I was up at the shore for the 4th. But as I explained to him, they're not fantasy in the usual sense. They're complex, character-driven political/historical novels that happen to take place in a Medieval-y world where magic and dragons and things exist. The fantasy is the context, not the point, which isn't always true. Much of the time nothing fantastical happens or is mentioned at all. And he's an amazing writer. I end up rooting for characters whose goals are diametrically opposed. It's crazy. You do have to read them in order, though:

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords

Highly recommended.
Jul. 17th, 2005 11:32 pm (UTC)
I'm fairly certain Barb owns them. (Glancing at shelves) Yes, there's "Game of Thrones," right there behind the picture of Dale Watson. :) I'm about halfway through Jonathan Strange, which I'm enjoying a lot, but I always go for "character-driven" stories.
Jul. 18th, 2005 01:13 am (UTC)
I like character-driven everything when it comes to entertainment. So how's JS&MN? I have it - somewhere - and I'm quite looking forward to reading it - someday.
Jul. 18th, 2005 12:25 pm (UTC)
Pretty much.

I'm liking it--it's not what I usually seek, but her characters and backgrounds are so very rich and well-developed I'm in awe. It moves very slowly, but it's all buildup to a pretty decent story. Now, it takes a while for a likeable character to surface, but they've been worth it, I think. :) Mr. Norrell is a royal pain in the ass, but it works well, because most of the rest of the characters in the book think so, too; but it takes getting through the whole first part before we're introduced to Jonathan Strange, who is rather loveable in his strange way.

In any case, I'm liking it a lot.
Jul. 19th, 2005 03:05 am (UTC)
How, well, strange that one of the title characters doesn't appear until so late. I wish I knew where I stashed my copy. :-(
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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