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Poor Will's Almanack: November 28 - December 5, 2023

Sunset with the moon at Blacklick, Ohio. Even at midday 5 p.m. the moon keeps a silent vigil over our world.
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Sunset with the moon at Blacklick, Ohio. Even at midday 5 p.m. the moon keeps a silent vigil over our world.

Poor Will’s Almanack in the time of early winter in the time of the Gourd Moon and the low sun in Sagittarius.

Among the most consistent morning companions to early risers in my neighborhood are the crows. They leave their roosts and call about 15 to 20 minutes before sunrise throughout the year, and they are especially welcome between September and January when most other birds have either stopped singing or have left for the South.  

The crows are almost as precise in the timing of their vocalizations as cardinals and mourning doves are in the spring, and they do provide a relatively predictable clock of passage. 

In something of the same way that bells on churches or public buildings announce the hours, the crows call out the time of the year.

When the weather is coldest, the crows usually awaken between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. on my block. 

As the sun begins to come up earlier, however, they follow a more rigorous timetable, are almost always up by 7:15 on Groundhog Day, close to 6:00 a.m. by spring equinox, 5:00 a.m. by summer solstice. 

Once July begins, their calls measure the shortening days all the way through autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

This being said, it is, I believe, not so important to know exactly when the crows call than it is to hear what they have to say: 'that we are not really as alone as we might think, and that....like Henry David Thoreau once rote, 'he world is still well kept, her undertakings secure.'

This is BiFelker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with more notes on the seasons. In the meantime, listen for crows or other birds or other keepers of the day.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.