The forecast for a 30% chance of rain today got me outdoors earlier this morning to mow the back lawn. I was about 80% done with it (can you tell I like percentages?) when I felt a nasty burning sensation in my left leg, just below the knee.
I'd been stung by a hornet. I walked, half ran down the Stairway to Heaven toward the garage, abandoning the lawn mower. I realized now the hornet was chasing me so I dove inside the garage and closed the door.
Back inside the house, I quickly downed an antihistamine. I'm not deathly allergic, but when I get stung (and it seems to happen once a year or so), the swelling lasts a full week. Even now, I see an angry red blotch is spreading across my leg.
A little while later, I decided I needed to rescue the lawnmower in case it rained later, so I pulled on a pair of jeans, a corduroy jacket with hood, all buttoned up, and a pair of gloves. If a neighbor saw me out there, they clearly must've thought I was crazy. It's only 90 degrees out there.
Next, I decided to head down to the vegetable garden in the front of the yard to hand-pollinate my squashes. I was in luck: there was a female blossom open and waiting for my attention, so i dabbed a q-tip on a male blossom and then on the stigma, if I remember my high school biology right.
Before I knew it, I had collected a large bowl of yellow wax beans and green string beans, and I spied the season's first cucumber ready for picking.
While I was so occupied, I noticed a commotion in a spruce near the perimeter of my property. A group of four crows were showing inordinate interest in the spruce's dense inner branches. Suddenly, a mourning dove came dropping fast out of the tree and it almost seemed to stumble across the surface of the lawn as it fluttered low toward the shelter of a large burning bush.
I walked toward the spruce, flushing first one crow, then another and another. I thought there was one more in there, but I couldn't see anything. Seconds later, it emerged, rising high in the air as it flapped its wings to gain altitude, carrying in its beak a large mourning dove chick.
It was a helpless feeling to watch it carry its prize off to the treetops of the white pines. It galled me that a crow would snatch a chick right out from under its mother. Crows are known to be smart birds, and I'm guessing they're smarter than a mourning dove. Had they decided to gang up on the mourning dove to mob her or distract her while another crow made off with her baby?
I guess I'll never know that and I'm just torturing myself by speculating. I would have been saddened to see any bird attacked by crows, but the mourning dove, especially, seems like more of a victim. It's so placid and peaceful in its habits.
I know, crows have to eat too, although I wish they'd stick to roadkill. A small flock of hyperactive house finches caroused and quarreled nearby, shortly after the carnage. They seemed unperturbed, or unaware of, what happened.
I guess this kind of things happens every day, but most people probably wouldn't bother to investigate a group of noisy crows. I kind of wish I hadn't seen it.