Thursday, February 26, 2009

Benoit Mandelbrot - a very Smart Crow

Benoit Mandelbrot - a very smart crow

Benoit Mandelbrot has been flying since late October, 2008. He is the middle sibling of three children born to two Crows that live next door to me in Burringbar, in the Mt Warning Caldera Region of NE NSW, Australia. The family is a tight knit unit. The Father Crow has done much hard work to raise his children, with his Wife, and soon the children will be independent. 
All three children of the Crows still have their baby voices, although sometimes Benoit and the older sibling Baba O'Riley can make some pretty convincing adult sounds. 

Over the December and January months, the children have vastly expanded their vocals, and eating skills. All three children have counted coup with the children of other birds in the neighbourhood - Kookaburras,Currawongs and Hawks. They do not fight with Magpies, although I notice that, when very young, the Crow children would "stalk" the adult Magpies. This was tolerated very kindly, by the "stalked" adult.

As told earlier in this blog, Baba was the first of the babys to fly up very high with a Sea Eagle.

At other times, the Crow children have flown, with their parents (particularly their Father) to chase adult Wedge Tail EaglesSparrow HawksGrey and Brown Goshawks and Kookaburras, but usually it is the Father Crow that continues the chase, and the Crow children retreat to safe arbours while he fights, chases and counts coup.

When the children first flew from their nest in the Crows Ash Tree, I couldn't distinguish between them easily. However, even when they were in their nest, I felt that there was often a little pair of eyes watching me, and had an intuitive feeling that one of the Crow children would become my friend.

From almost their first flight, there was always one little Crow that would give me an extra long gaze, focus into my eyes, and try to talk with me. Now, as I have learnt to distinguish the Crow children more, I can see Benoit, even in the air, or high up in a tree, by mannerisms and voice. Benoit even comes when I call.
 "Benoit! Benoit" I call, and Benoit comes flying down to me, and has a little talk. Swooping over my head landing only inches from me, but will not land on my hand. I have fed these babies, and their parents, after the Father Crow had a serious wing injury,and so, I guess that it is not unusual for them to come to me. Their parents, however, are quite distrustful of closeness to people, and prefer to stay at a distance. I put out clean water for them daily, which they love to drink, bathe and soak their food in.

Benoit's Father has sometimes come to me, asking if I will help chase a goanna. He was prone to do this when the Children were still in the nest. But that is another story.....

Meanwhile, back to Benoit, the smart little Crow.  Although second to leave the nest, Benoit has shown much intelligence, and is often the first to respond to the parent Crows' calls, a situation or opportunity. Benoit will often come down to me and just sit and talk with me. Looking into Benoit's eyes is like discovering another universe. The beauty, wildness, intelligence and sensitivity astound and amaze me. My respect for Crows has increased a thousandfold, since getting to know this family. It is funny, even as I write this article, Benoit is up in the "birth" tree practicing the "alarm" call, and play fighting with the elder Crow, Baba.  About a week ago, when Benoit came up to me, talking many different crow words, I repeatedly said "hello, hello". Then, to my astonishment, Benoit said "hello" back to me. TWICE!!!! What a smart little fellow Benoit Mandelbrot is.

One of my favourite pastimes is to sit in the evening warmth, and watch the first stars appear, with the children of the Crows all sitting nearby. This is a peaceful event, quite often.... but not when the Hawks arrive with their children, to inspect the old crow's nest in the birthing tree and attack the children of the Crows! No, on those evenings, everyone is alert, and when it becomes too much, the father Crow will take the children and his wife off to the nearby family of Crows that live a kilometre or so away, and spend the evening there! I don't blame him. The Hawks are fierce, relentless and can severely injure a baby Crow. But, somehow, I feel that Benoit will survive Crow childhood and grow into a very wise old Crow.

Benoit Mandelbrot is indeed a very smart and brave Crow. 

Photo: Benoit Mandelbrot having one of his first flights in early November 2008

I am the crow that calls out the law
I am the eagle whose wings ever soar
I am the earthworm, humble unseen
I am a miracle in god’s greatest dream.

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