Monday, October 27, 2014

Minnesota birds make feathers fly for Halloween

There is an unverified source of information (this is the Internet, after all) that lists crows, ravens, owls and vultures as birds associated with Halloween. We have some of each in My Minnesota although we do not, and probably never will, make reference to Angry Birds unless we're writing about the Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Crows? probably
Crows? probably
Photo by J. Harrington

Can you readily distinguish between crows and ravens? I rarely get to have them stand or fly side by side so I can easily notice the raven's 20% size advantage. Thankfully, there are several other clues we can use, but from now on I'm going to rely more heavily on the fact that, given their range differences, if I see a medium to large black bird around here, it's probably a crow. If I'm way up north, I'll pay more attention to the possibility it could be a raven. Not saying ravens are never (nevermore?) found this far south in Minnesota, just that it's not common.

As for owls, Minnesota has about a dozen species of them, according to the Department of Natural Resources. In a Halloween context, maybe we should check with the Department of Unnatural Resources? How else would you explain the way many owls have such camouflage patterns in their feathers that they disappear rather unnaturally. By the way, how many of the 15 could you find?

Last, and possibly least popular, turkey vultures, which are often found in Minnesota during the warmer months, most years are often headed south by the time Halloween arrives.

In my mind, there's no way to avoid here reference to Poe's The Raven. Rather than post a copy of the poem as written, enjoy it as read by the inimitable Christopher Walker, complete with sound effects. You might also want to listen to some of the other versions listed as "Bonus Tracks."

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