Friday, June 4, 2010

"In there stepped a stately raven..."

only not really... but a crow did land on my bird feeder this morning, and he looked like an elephant sittin' on a tricycle.

I went to get my camera to take a picture because this crow guy was steroided up like he was trying out for the Yankees -- but by the time I got back, he was "nevermore."


What's the difference between a raven and a crow?
I'm sure I don't know, so I called Dr. Jim, my retired vet on call, and he told me this: Not much.


Jim: They come from a group called also jackdaws or the rook -- or the now famous "black duck."
Me: Very, very funny.

David shared with Jim my calling of the crows in our neighborhood "black ducks," so that's a running joke.

IMHO, it's wearing thin like a cheap tennis shoe, but these two, David and Jim, manage to get their jabs in on my "black duck" comment at every possible opportunity. (no pun intended)

Jim: BTW, I'm having trouble with the black ducks eating the vegetables in my garden. I'm thinking of making a scareduck. You got any suggestions?
Me: [dead silence]
Jim: You there?
Me: I thought they were carrion eaters.
Jim: The American ones aren't picky.
Me: Figures. If you fry it, they buy it.

Jim: Crows are incredibly smart.
Me: What intelligence test were they given?
Jim: You called me about the "black ducks." There is no need to be smart.
Me: I'm listening. [drums fingertips on table]
Jim: They come from the corvidae family along with rooks and jackdaws and jays.
Me: Spell "corvidae."
Jim: B- L- A-C- K - D - U- C - K.
Me: Too bad you and David are not naturally humorous, like me, or you'd have managed to say something else witty by now.

Jim: Apparently, some genus of crows are smart enough to know how to eat toxic toads.
Me: How smart is that? Eating toxic?
Jim: They know how to avoid the toxic.
Me: Well, so do I.
Jim: Then you are smart as a black duck. They actually flip the toad over -- and penetrate the skin with their beaks in an area where the skin is thinner..
Me: Eww. Eww. Eww. Stop talking.

Jim: Well, I'm glad you saw a black duck on your bird feeder, but he's probably not interested in the bird seed.
Me: What's he interested in?
Jim: He's probably resting from playing too much "air chicken."
Me: I'm done. This conversation is bordering on insanity.
Jim: They are intelligent creatures, I'm telling you -- they protect their nests from other birds, and they fight in the air like daredevils. You know what's bad for "black ducks" -- the West Nile virus -- killed 50% of them a couple of years ago. I need that in a spray bottle for the garden.
Me: Well, as much as I like your bringing me tomatoes. I think I'll pass on them this year. Thanks for the information, Jim. Talk to you later.


So, Poe knew he had a raven.
I knew I had a crow.

I just didn't realize that if we had known how smart they were, Poe and I could have challenged them to a good round of checkers.

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Perched upon a bird feeder just outside my kitchen door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more. [and escaped before I could take his picture]

Little teaching story -- when I was first teaching, I taught ninth grade, and ultimately, Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven showed up in every ninth grade anthology. I assigned the students to read it one night, and the next day, I gave them a simple reading check over it.

Here was one of the questions:

Where did the raven sit when it came in the room?
Student answer: On the boobs of Pallas.


I loved that answer.


  1. And the black duck quickly flitting, no be sitting, no be sitting
    On the feeder offered freely just outside your kitchen door;
    For though he liketh sitting, beaming, just inside the glass door gleaming lie two cats with eyes unseeming;
    And the sunlight o'er them streaming throws their shadows out the door;
    And the bird which fears that shadow that lies floating on the porch floor
    Shall returneth — nevermore!

  2. OMG, Nan. That is hilarious.

    True Lies -- how long did it take you to make that up. I mean, you even paid attention to meter.

    Shut my ex-literature teaching mouth!!!!!

  3. Poe paid attention to the meter... I just substituted a few words here and there. You can thank my 8th grade lit teacher, Mrs. Reagin who made us memorize poetry and recite it for a grade. Other students got easy stuff, but with my luck, I had to recite the first and last stanzas of this particular classic. The words of "The Raven" shall resonate "evermore" because though I hated that particular assignment, Mrs. Reagin was one of my fave teachers ever.

  4. Why is that -- the teacher who gives us the stuff we hate -- is the one we love the most.
    That was always my approach. :-)

    Yay, Mrs. Reagin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!