Saturday, February 28, 2009

The dog days of winter

The walk with Biscuit this morning provided some unexpected entertainment. Biscuit has been very attentive to all other dog noises lately: if she hears another dog barking in the distance, she immediately stops and listens. If the sound is nearby, she intently searches for the source.
Well, this morning she heard some barking nearby, looked around and didn’t see a dog. I heard the barking and was similarly confused. We moved on a few paces, and the barking resumed. Clearly it was very close, but both Biscuit and I could not locate the source. I expected a door to open nearby any minute and see some little yapper come dashing out. But no dog appeared.
We moved on a few paces, and the barking resumed. This time, we both took the time to carefully figure out where the barking was coming from. Once we realized where the barking was coming from, it was apparent why neither of us had figured it out before, and it was also apparent why we had not seen a dog.
The barking was coming from a place about thirty feet away: from the branches of a tree. Biscuit and I both looked up: was she as surprised as I was? The barking was not coming from a dog. It was a crow, a crow doing a very convincing imitation of a yappy dog bark. It was not the only crow in that tree, but it seems that it was the only one which had mastered the dog bark.
During the summer we have plenty of cat birds; now we have a dog bird, too.

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