Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Ducks, a frog, bunnies and, oh, yes, crows June 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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IT’S BEEN A BIT of an animal menagerie on my property lately. First, three baby ducks bee-lined across the driveway, around the corner of the garage, up the hill and into the lilies that grow wild at woods’ edge. I have not seen them since their surprise showing on my residential lot blocks from the river.

I was pulling weeds in a flowerbed when I discovered this frog.

I was pulling weeds in a flowerbed when I discovered this frog.

The frog stayed put for a long time so I could photograph it.

The frog stayed put for a long time so I could photograph it.

That leaves me wondering also why a frog would appear, perched on a chunk of limestone rimming a garage side flowerbed. But there this bug-eyed amphibian sat in the sun, unmoving except for the pulse of his heartbeat. Unlike the baby fowl, the frog froze, allowing me to take a multitude of images before he slipped into the flowers.

The bunnies always show up each spring when I plant my flowers.

The bunnies always show up each spring when I plant my flowers.

Petunias are a favorite tried and true annual.

Petunias are a favorite tried and true annual.

No rabbit photos, just more flowers.

No rabbit photos, just more flowers.

And then the rabbits, oh, the rabbits, they have arrived in force since I potted and planted flowers like kale, petunias and impatiens. I’ve noticed a nibble here, a nibble there, but not complete consumption of what, to a rabbit, must seem a salad smorgasbord.

It is the crows, though, which I find bothersome. Ducks are cute. So is a frog in the odd sort of way such a creature can be cute. And bunnies, even if they prefer my flowers to grass, are, undeniably cute.

But crows? There is nothing cute about their annoying and raucous caws that grate at the nerves, that threaten in an unsettling Alfred Hitchock sort of way.

I won't give crows the satisfaction of photographing them. But I did photograph this bird on a tabletop fountain.

I won’t give crows the satisfaction of photographing them. But I did photograph this bird on a tabletop fountain.

And, no, I have never rushed to grab my camera and photograph a crow.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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28 Responses to “Ducks, a frog, bunnies and, oh, yes, crows”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Hitchcock’s bird movie was his most disturbing for me! Your flower photos are so beautiful! It’s a glorious time of year!!!!!!

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    I am no fan of crows either, but we have a couple that frequent our backyard oasis and drink from the stream or pond along with the other birds, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks. Everything is or is starting to bloom out nicely; the weather is beautiful and there are few bugs to pester us while dining on the patio in the evening. I wish this time of year lasted longer.

  3. At one time or another we’ve had, wild turkeys, ducks, a goose named Douglas, (for an entire week), rabbits, skunks, ground hogs, opossum, raccoon and deer in our back yard. Not to mention all the traditional types of birds including the aforementioned crow, pass through our yard on their way to who knows where. Oh, and one kitten that showed up on the back deck one day about 16 years ago and I guess she is just waiting for the right time to “pass through” as well. And we live in a highly populated town just outside of Boston.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    Summer is blooming (finally) and you captured it well. Crows clean up the sad part of nature – but their cries ARE annoying.

  5. 01rena Says:

    I love all of nature – even, or perhaps, especially crows. Through the cold winter I threw out scraps and bread pieces to a family of crows, calling out to them, “CAW, CAW, CAW!” as I tossed the food in a
    corner of the front yard. After a few months, they’d be waiting for me, calling with a special “caw” just for me – four quick caws at a higher pitch then their typical caw. I’d go out, and they’d eat in a particular order.
    The leader, the father crow, would eat first, saving plenty for the others. Then he’d fly to a high branch to serve as sentinel while the others ate. The youngsters would give mama crow plenty of respectful space and leave her the best pickings. The two-year-old siblings helped the yearlings by modeling how to tear food, or stack bits in their beaks. Then when they were finished, the father crow would signal with a, “CAW CAW CAW!” that all was clear and time to leave. Then the family would fly over my head as they left, eyes tilted at me, and call out, “Caw caw caw caw!” with that distinct call assigned just for me. A crow family “thank you”! Just a few weeks ago I heard mama crow calling loudly from the tree, without stopping. They hadn’t been coming for feedings since the last snowfall, so I rushed out with bread in hand. Mama crow called loudly in those four caws at me, then flew off. I was puzzled – wasn’t she hungry? Then a minute later I heard her cawing as she returned, with three young fledglings following her. She landed back in the tree and proudly showed me her darlings. She called my signal several times, tilting her head as she called it. The fledglings mimicked their mama, looking down at me, studying me. Then they flew off. I watched a marvelous Youtube PBS documentary on Crows called, “A Murder of Crows” and it explained that crows can recognize faces of particular people for a lifetime. They are quite clever, resourceful, devoted to family, and sorely misunderstood. Children can be quite noisy, but we love them. Crows are noisy too, but they are God’s little animal children. Perhaps it’s time to look at crows a little differently?

    • Rena, I doubt I will ever hold crows with such fondness as you do. But, what you wrote has caused me to pause and think. I, of course, knew none of which you wrote about the cleverness and devotedness to family. Thank you for offering all of us this perspective. That’s what I love about the comments section– this sharing of info and thoughts and ideas and connecting.

  6. Love your flowers. I don’t like crows or any birds that fly at your head. They remind me of a cheep horror movie my Mom made me watch with her once.

  7. I put up a fence this year to hopefully keep the bunnies away from my sunflowers. They ate every single one last year, the fiends.

  8. Don Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed Rena’s crow story, very fascinating! While we do not have many crows where I live we do have flocks of their cousin the raven. Much like crows, ravens can be very entertaining and their aerobatic flying is incredible to watch. I have seen them “dog fight” with a bald eagle and win the fight. Like crows they are very intelligent creatures. In the 40 below winter temperatures ravens will roost on parking lot lights in the mall and big box store areas keeping themselves warm all the while waiting for the lunch that eventually arrives via pickup trucks with trash bags (i.e. food) in the back. Much like the crow their call can become quite annoying though…..

  9. Sue Ready Says:

    Stunning photography that captures the simplicity and beauty of the season. You are indeed a master at that.

  10. Loving your captures 🙂 I see you are on the “Wild Side” on your blog today too – ha! – capturing nature in all its glories and mysteries. Happy Day – Enjoy!

  11. Don Says:

    Most noticeable differences = ravens are bigger, feathers of ravens are shinier, beak is longer and curved with a tuft of feathers at top of beak. Unnoticeable, crows live up to 8 years while ravens live up to 30 years.

    I’m sure there are other difference but this is what I know off the top of my head……………..

  12. Littlesundog Says:

    I like that first photo of the frog and the wee spider in the upper right corner. And sadly, we have no bunnies right now (usually we do) because the foxes have cleared them out. I’m tired of the foxes. I wish they would take their kits and move on. I’d rather have bunnies on the property. 🙂 You are fortunate to have a variety of visitors in town!

    • I was wondering when someone would comment on the spider. I’ve seen a fox only once in my life. It was crossing a remote gravel road. Beautiful animal. However, I can understand your opinion given too many foxes in your neighborhood. Our property is right next to a wooded hillside, which provides a good hiding place/home for animals.

  13. Beth Ann Says:

    The frog was just enjoying time in your little oasis I suppose. Soaking up the sun and enjoying the view would be the perfect way to spend the day. I hope to be able to spend some time outside later today when I get back home and can unwind a tad bit before I delve into the cleaning and sorting and move preparations. Have to take time out now and then, right?


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