There don’t seem to be a lot of birds in the desert. There are pigeons and ravens, crows and grackles. Grackles are much like crows, but leaner, and the females are brown. They are successful because they adapt quickly. Now that summer is over, there are very few insects around. And crackles are insect eaters. One of their adaptations is to develop a taste for other foods. They hang around dumpsters, much like sea gulls on the East Coast.
But they have learned to let cars catch insects for them. Drive into a parking lot, and a raven lands on your hood. If the hood isn’t warm, you haven’t driven far enough to warm up their feet. They leave. A warm engine means you’ve driven far enough to catch bugs.
After they land on the hood and decide you’ve got insects in your wipers, they hop up to your windshield wipers and clean up any fresh bugs that haven’t dried up yet.
The first few times this happened, it was a little too Tippy Hedren for me. Then I saw what they were doing and I was amazed. Adaptation is a form of intelligence that keeps a species alive. You don’t see grackles complaining that the insects have left. Nope. They scare the bejeezus out of you and fend for themselves.
–Quinn McDonald watches nature and learns her own lessons. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2007 All rights reserved. Image: Quinn McDonald.