3 crows on a frozen lake, watching a bald eagle eat a carcass

So Much for Sharing

Dark, dreary, frigid, and snowy

That’s our weather of late. But sitting in my snug office, just steps from soup, sourdough, coffee, and more… I’ve no reason to complain. The weather may be harsh, but I’m not suffering.

Can the same be said of the wildlife I watch through my window?

This week, the lake below our home wears a cover of ice that’s mostly blanketed by snow. I’ve written several posts about my winter wildlife neighbors. There’s Welcome to the All-Night Deer Diner, where winter deer feast on our hemlocks and arborvitae. In Winter’s Stoic Eagles, bald eagles maintain their regal postures, beaks held high, even as they endure an arctic-like storm. In Winter Wonders, I muse about the possibility some animals have feelings, and if they resent harsh conditions.

Today, the word ‘sharing’ came to mind as I filmed three crows watching a juvenile bald eagle pick at a carcass. I couldn’t tell what creature the eagle was eating. But whatever it was, that trio of crows seemed intent on sharing the meal. Or at least, hanging around for leftovers.

Here’s a snippet of what I saw.

Do you imagine the eagle ever shared with the waiting crows?

When I first noticed the crows, they were some distance from the eagle. By the time I was set up and filming, the corvids had come quite close, taking the tentative steps you see in the video. The eagle appeared non-plussed—no risk of losing its meal to the lesser birds.

Lunch lasted more than an hour—longer than my filming patience. I wasn’t recording when the eagle stopped eating. I did see it fly off, however. It carried nothing obvious in its talons. That said, there was nothing terribly obvious left on the ice, either.

The crows pounced on what looked like bony, tattered bits—slim pickings and a tiny reward for their patience.

So much for sharing.

A Resource

I’ve recommended this fascinating book before: Bernd Heinrich’s Winter World–the ingenuity of animal survival. It’s about animals’ physiology, habitat, and instinct.

A Related Kids’ Book

Here’s a fun, fiction picture book about sharing: The Radish is Back, by Yiqun Fang and Yunhui Tang.

Cover of book titled The Radish is Back.

The book’s animal characters are all looking for food after a snowstorm. In a heart-warming sequence of events, they pass a huge radish from one friend to the next. The story isn’t about wildlife’s winter survival challenges. In real life, what these characters pull from the snow would be pretty darn unlikely. That’s part of the book’s giggly charm. While it’s not a book about nature per se, I do think The Radish is Back would be a great conversation starter not only about sharing but also about how wildlife survives through the seasons.

Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

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