Worthless Creatures

Crossed paths with the crow clobberer, on my walk, this afternoon. I was sitting on the fence, looking through my iPod for some good listening, when someone brushed by, too close for comfort. I looked up, and clocked Dolgonosov’s speckly bald head bobbing off down Moberly Road. I tried to get a picture of it, but a dogwalker was watching. Embarrassed, I raised my lens a little higher, and snapped the trees. One doesn’t like to be caught, ehh, photographing the backs of people’s heads. That sort of thing comes off creepy.

In other bald-related news, remember the worthless crapbawky? — the wee sparrow with no feathers on her neck? Well, I noticed her today, looking crappier than ever:

Every time I see this bird, it looks a little crappier.

Every time I see this bird, it looks a little crappier.

When I first spotted the crapbawky, last year, I thought she must be diseased. But she kept coming back, and with a nice complement of little ones, to boot. She never showed any signs of illness or distress, beyond the great manky bald spot. The same is true, this year: she’s a frequent visitor, lively and energetic, and once again, a proud mother. It occurred to me that another bird might be overgrooming her. Her feather loss has always been confined to the back of her neck, the tops of her wings, the fluffy bit between her shoulderblades — areas she probably can’t reach, on her own. But I never had any direct evidence to support that conclusion, till this morning. As the poor crapbawky helped herself to breakfast, another bird sat down beside her, and began nipping her tail. As I watched, that bird worked a feather loose, and spat it onto the ground. What the devil? I thought feather-picking was the exclusive province of stressed, miserable domestic birds — parrots, in particular. Why is a wild bird denuding its mate? And why is the crapbawky allowing it? Does she not notice? I can’t see how that would be possible: she’s got great bare patches all over her back, and down the sides of her tail!

It strikes me that this picking behaviour could have decidedly unfortunate consequences, if it continues to spread. What if the picking bird decides to work his way through her flight feathers? The crapbawky could end up…a crapwalky. (Groan.) Ah, well; not much can be done, I suppose.

The trees I photographed, instead of Mr. Dolgonosov.

The trees I photographed, instead of Mr. Dolgonosov.

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