Eating Crow
Inside the Outdoors, September 12
, 2014

So often while walkers stroll along the walking path to, in, and from Legion Keener Park, the common sight of birds found in and around the water basin of Loyalhanna Creek has been the ‘ever-popular’ Canadian Geese.

The asterisks are put around those two words because of what they leave behind in form of excrements, and not the beauty of the bird itself.

The habit has been for many that when one happens to glance down at the waters, maybe with one’s peripheral vision, that any movement of birdlife in the waters automatically results in the thinking that what exists is the famous bird of our neighboring country.

Recently while crossing second bridge on McFarland Road did I eye a rather large flock of ducks upstream. The first assumption was, “There is a flock of geese going about their business as they usually do, talking among themselves and having a family meeting.”

Looking twice, it was discovered that these were not geese at all but a breed of ducks. Hoping at some point that they would come closer, I headed toward home thinking when I got there, I would try to find pictures to identify them on the computer. But there again, that wouldn’t be that easy, because of the distance between them and me.

Last week, while taking my daily walk along the path in Legion Keener Park did I spotted the ducks again, floating along as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Now, zeroing in on their characteristics, I could see them a bit closer and make an alleged identification comparing them to what I saw on my computer screen.

What I encountered visually was the Red-breasted Merganser.

Not new to the neighborhood, I have written about a few that were seen in the small pond of Pig Iron right behind Legion Keener Park. I was awestruck when I sighted them the first time because I had never seen them out of the zoo’s captivity.

The characteristic that wowed my attention was the tuft of hair that projected from the back of their head, different than other ducks which have a smooth hairline going down the back of their neck.

What I seemed to see more of were females as compared to males. They are described as having a cinnamon-brown head with a smaller double crest and a white throat patch. The male has a dark green head with a double pointed crest, white neck collar and a reddish-brown spotted breast (www.identicards.com).

They are considered to be part of the diving duck family. And that makes sense, because, as noted, they could be seen doing just that, pursuing fish, aquatic insects and crustaceans under the water in a rapid motion. They also take pleasure in ingesting frogs when given the chance. “Both males and females have an occasional hoarse croak.” I is wonder if that has anything to do with its frog diet!

Since wildlife, both fowl and fish alike, use the Loyalhanna Creek as a migratory route, it is possible that the Mergansers did the same, as they too are a Canadian bird. Their paths have taken them to the northern part of our country particularly the Atlantic coast.

Can it be supposed that they followed the Canadian geese to Latrobe? God only knows!

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Recently while reading the Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest published by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, it was noted that crow season is in as it began July 4 and will end April 5, 2015.

Not being in tune with hunting have I ever heard of area sportsmen climbing the hills from valleys in search of these black birds to eat crow.

What is meant by ‘eating crow,’ besides the obvious? Well, to begin with, it has nothing to do with the birds we see in fields or hovering above the tree lines. According en.wikipedia.org, “It is an American colloquial idiom meaning humiliation by admitting wrongness or having been proved wrong after taking a strong position.”

It goes on to state, its origins comes from Leviticus chapter 11 where it states “Crows are unfit for eating.” Of consequence, “eating a crow is traditionally seen as being distasteful.”

Searching the Internet, it is obvious not everyone believes this statement. Found at bertc.com, Crow and Mushroom Stew, Potted Stew and Crow Pie are three recipes that look very delectable. From www.cooks.com, we find Herb’s Crow Hash. That’s more mouth-watering yet. And in the summer, Crow Kebabs are popular (www.ifood.tv).

“Recently, the meat has acquired a reputation of being an aphrodisiac. As a result, active hunting of the bird has increased (www.ifood.tv).”


- Paul J. Volkmann
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