I know you’ve seen them, I’m positive you’ve heard them and I’m guessing that you thought about Alfred Hitchcock’s horror/fantasy film even if you didn’t know that he made “The Birds” in 1963. The story takes place in Bodega Bay, which is only 104 miles as the crow flies from Los Altos.
These birds don’t care if you live high in the hills or in the lowlands, whether you caffeinate on State or Main. Crows tend to be noisy, suspicious and especially aggressive toward raptors, owls and millennials from the tech sector. They hop around along the ground while foraging. Ravens have a very distinctive “crock” versus “caw” call and are often observed in pairs. Crows frequently aggregate in larger groups. Seagulls spend much of their time at ballparks.
Take some time observing the birds in your backyard. Subtle differences in behavior and bird calls are immensely informative in making an ID, even when you are unable to get a good, clear look at an individual bird.
To keep our community safe from above, here are a few points to insert in your bird brain.
American crows are familiar over much of the continent: large, intelligent, all-black birds with hoarse, cawing voices. They hang out in treetops, fields, roadsides, open woods, empty beaches and town centers, like ours. They usually feed on the ground and eat almost anything, including earthworms, insects and seeds, with occasional garbage to help their digestion. Their flight style is a patient, methodical wing-flapping rarely broken up with glides.
The common raven has flapped around the Northern Hemisphere for centuries, following covered wagons, sleds and hunting parties in hopes of a quick meal. Ravens are among the smartest of all birds, gaining a reputation for solving evermore-complicated problems invented by evermore-creative scientists. These big birds thrive among humans, especially Edgar Allan Poe and the NFL team in Baltimore. They stretch across the sky on easy, flowing wingbeats and fill empty spaces with an echoing croak.
Please pay attention! If you happen to pass anyone on the streets of Los Altos who looks like Tippi Hedren or Rod Taylor being followed by birds, run away! Run away, fast!
Andy Dolich operates Dolich & Associates, a sports consultancy in Los Altos.