Black on Blue


On a crisp and sunny February morning we spent some time watching a group of Crows playing around on an iced over lake. We were unable to tell what they were doing even after half an hour of observation. Could it have been looking for food, either embedded into the ice, or under it? Or were they just admiring their handsome reflections on the ice? Or who knows what. Anyway, it was fun to observe them walking ever so gingerly to avoid slipping around and peering into the ice for a reason we were unable to determine.

68 thoughts on “Black on Blue

    1. HI, it would be fun to have taken more time to sit around and watch these guys on the ice to create a hypothesis and better yet to have the time and resources to do some experiment to find out what exactly they were doing. Maybe someday? Hope your day is going well.

  1. I saw some american robins and even a few sparrows doing this yesterday afternoon. I tend to think they where looking food, but I didn’t see too much pecking going on.

    It was the same lighting conditions as in your photo, with the ice throwing good reflections. It is plausible that they were trying to determine what they were seeing.

    I remember watching a video of a male cardinal being duped by his reflection in a car mirror during mating season; he was fighting with his reflection.

    I think it is a toss up. Perhaps they went onto the ice to forage, but then became captivated by their reflections?

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your insights. On first observation it did look like foraging behavior but like you we did not really observe any pecking for stuff on the surface. To me this suggested they could have been observing their reflections or maybe something under the ice that they knew they could no get to. It is really fun to take the time to observe these guys and thanks for sharing your observations.

  2. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature

    Oh wow, Mike, this may be my favorite one yet! You captured the intelligence of the crow’s eye and the colors are magnificent! I love the blue! I think they are just interested in the reflections, and how the light plays on the ice, as well as how the water looks under. I am always astounded by how smart they are, and if there is no food present….. but I do tend to anthropomorphize. I admit it!

    1. Hi Mary, I think there is no way around translating human thoughts into describing animal behavior. Just what we as humans do as well as really liking to connect the dots and make complete stories. I would tend to agree with you that they might just be curious and discovering the reflections on the ice or seeing under the ice and in a way learning about ice. They sure are smart and sure are fun to observe. Hope your day is going well.

  3. Maybe they were fascinated by the ‘hard’ water that held them up invisibly, and seeing the fish moving below, not trapped in the ‘hardness’. Wonderful capture with details caught, so hard with a black subject. I can see this as a painting.

    1. Hi Paula, maybe you need to coax them into using their full range of calls outside your window early in the morning. Some of the sounds they can make are wonderful however a 5:30 am caw, caw, caw, might be a bit disturbing. Hope you have a great day.

    1. HI Susan, these guys were fun to watch that day and seeing them on the blue ice was a treat and it did make for a nice photo. Hope you are hiving a great day and thanks for taking the time to leave a little feedback.

  4. Girl Gone Expat

    Funny – now I wonder what they were doing as well! Probably evaluating their own shadow? Nice shot – very crisp and clear.

    1. Thanks and perhaps we will never know exactly what these guys were up to that day but it is always a good time to watch and try to figure things out. Hope you are having a great day and wishing you a great and fun filled weekend.

  5. A very interesting photo – and lovely hues and colors. All I could add more on reflections and how difficult it is to capture black has been said already, but I agree on it.
    Like this pic very much πŸ™‚ (and you are too quick for me with posting so that I can’t keep up commenting sometimes, sorry)

    1. Hi Suzan, it was fun to sped time observing these guys on the ice. So much to learn from observing the natural world. I do enjoy yor thought filled comments but let them come whenever you have the time to do so. Hope your weekend is going well.

      1. Thanks. I know. I enjoy yours too very much. I just wanted to explain that mostly I think “Oh, I want to check what Mike posted” and then something else happens and the next time I check it’s already 3 days – and posts – later. So when I’m not commenting it’s not because I don’t like a pic or something, but because my memory is… faulty. Sometimes. And it gets worse with the years – and the duties one has. Focus and prioritization are key, but sometimes there are just so many things calling for attention and have the same prio. Hmph. I will practice in egolessness now, so it’s actually not me writing here, but… everyone. Or you. πŸ˜‰ (guess I didn’t get it yet fully πŸ˜€ )

        1. Hi Suzan, now it is me who got busy with outside duties and was slow to reply. I fully understand those work and sometimes non-work but still feels like work duties that keep a person away from doing what they really want to do like just have fun. Strange world and set of systems we have built for ourselves.

          1. No worries because of you being busy as well. πŸ™‚ What you are doing with your blog is awesome anyway, posting every day and responding to every comment, and I don’t actually know how you manage to do that.

            Yep, indeed we built a strange world for ourselves, though work and duties can be fun too when they are fitting to you as a person. But I’m strongly convinced as well, that those of us working in an office and sitting in front of a computer day by day, are seriously lacking the experience of getting “tangible” work results. Or maybe that’s just me and I’m having a midlife crisis (and maybe I will change something in the long run, check out my gravatar – I started another blog. Just if you want of course, not really important).

            Anyway, I think the only solution to not getting pulled in every direction at once is strictly setting priorities. It just gets hard when your duty-prio’s are always higher than your fun-prio’s. πŸ™‚

          2. HI suzan, nice thought and I view the midlife crisis as a person getting smart and catching onto the game and realizing they really do not buy into the full set of rules. I will check out your new blog for sure.

          3. Thanks and nicely put. I will try to see the midlife crisis like this… it’s certainly healthier than thinking you’ve missed everything so far in your life (travels etc.) because of always working and ignoring opportunities.

            And sorry when I’m getting “lengthy” again, but I need to explain, so… with “tangible results” I mean, working with your hands and getting a result you can touch and feel and see. Like in crafts or even just in cooking, baking, chopping wood etc.
            Working at a computer/in an office (hopefully ;)) produces results too but they are less concrete. It’s more the intellectual product you get, ideas and numbers made visible (sometimes), but you can’t feel the impact or sense your work might have one day – seen from a meta perspective.
            Besides, very often it’s not about the work results anymore but more about who has a higher status, who can tell you what you should do and you are “forced” to do that etc. – well, like in most human interactions in fact. And the work goes ever on and on.. no real results. But when you have assembled an IKEA thingy (love that actually ;)) or see vegetables growing or cooked a meal or knitted a sweater… wow, what a great result.
            Back to the roots – and back to the simple things. πŸ™‚

          4. Hi Suzan, I fully understand your view and it is why now as an adult with a job which really produces intangible results and seems to never conclude I find much pleasure in dong chores like shoveling snow and even folding laundry as you can actually feel like you have accomplished something.

          5. Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. You feel and see that you have accomplished something, even if it’s just a – relatively – tiny task like baking a cake – or shoveling snow (okay, depends on the amount of snow ;)). And it doesn’t have to be a “fancy” activity. πŸ™‚

      1. gpj103

        They are one of the most intelligent birds out there…so maybe it was “I’ll just slide about a bit so he has a good picture for his website”. πŸ˜ƒ

  6. Hi There, I have been into wildlife rehabilitation for quite a few years and rehabilitate a number of crows. My thoughts are that something must attract the bird to be consistent in behaviour and spending a good bit of time in a spot. An object of interesting colour (not food) imbedded in the ice? And as most of the comments indicate, the crow could be fascinated by its own reflection. I have had 2 fledglings which I hand reared and an adult crow was admitted which was hit by a car. After treating the adult, I put it in the same big cage with the other two and made sure they were all fine together. The adult started feeding the two youngsters soon after it was with them. As soon as the wounds of the adult crow were healed, I released them into the surrounding bush at the centre. The adult came and fetched food I put out and fed the youngsters for weeks in this manner. When I reduce the support food, the adult cleverly made sure it was around at feeding time and stole some of the other β€œpatients” food from the feeding trays while a person is busy opening a cage. Beautiful photo!!!! Ina

    1. Hi Ina, your wildlife rehab adventures sound like so much fun and the observations you get to make are truly insightful. There is nothing like being able to observe animal behavior in detail. I recently read mind of a raven and was fascinated by that book. Thanks for checking out our blog and photos. We really appreciate it and especially you contributing you knowledge of crows and tier behavior. Hope your week is off to a great start and all the best.

  7. Two crows were having a loud argument or discussion of some sort today in my courtyard. They are so smart, I am always sure they’re doing something rational, but … maybe not. They have complex social structures and use tools, so maybe they were just trying to figure out whether they could get a curling team together.

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