Traveling "as the crow flies," eating "like a bird," and being "free as a bird" are just a few of the sayings we use to describe everyday human actions and feelings. But these often don't take into account the birds' real activities, relative to their size.
As the Crow Flies?
Written by Ellen Blackstone
This is BirdNote!
[Cawing of American Crows]
Whoever said that the fastest way to get somewhere is “as the crow flies” must not have seen crows flying to their night roost on an autumn afternoon. These shiny black aerial acrobats free-fall, tumble and tangle, then swoop back up. Definitely not the fastest way from one place to the next, as that old saying surely meant.
[Chatter of the Barn Swallow]
And “eating like a bird?” Well, in a single summer day, the Barn Swallow - like the ones we’re hearing - consumes about 850 insects. An American Robin chick gulps down up to 40 meals. And the Canada Goose consumes four pounds of grass. Do the math. Do you know anybody who eats like these birds?
[Robin’s chip-chip-chip distress call]
And, while being “free as a bird” sounds like fun, most birds have seasonal tasks that keep their…hmmm… beaks to the grindstone. Migration, courtship, nesting, feeding and protecting hungry chicks — and feeding them again — then back through the cycle. If you envy that bird’s “freedom,” consider the miles to fly and the mouths to feed – all in a year’s work, for a bird.
[Cheerily song of the American Robin]
For BirdNote.org, I’m Michael Stein.
Support for BirdNote comes from the Port Aransas Tourism Bureau. Info on February's Whooping Crane Festival and hundreds of species of birds to see year-round at visitportaransas.com.
Calls of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Caw of American Crow recorded by G.A.Keller, chatter of Barn Swallows by G.A. Keller, distress call of American Robin by R.S.Little, song of American Robin by W.L. Hershberger.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org November 2014/2019 Narrator: Michael Stein