BSL3 birdwatching

There are two large black-and-white corvids in South Africa, the pied crow and the white-necked raven. The reason I know this is because I had an argument with my partner’s friend who’s an older South African guy. He took us for a drive and we saw a big black and white bird flying in the distance and I said that looks too big to be a crow and the beak is really heavy, I think it’s a raven. He said no, it’s a pied crow, I used to have one as a pet.

Some months later I happened to find a bird book and lo and behold South Africa does have a raven that is also black and white and it does indeed have that scary looking beak which is much thicker than the crow’s.

Anyway last Friday I was working in the Biosafety Level 3 lab at the top of our tower. This time of year the pied crows like to come and hang out on the sunshades that are installed outside the building’s windows. Then I noticed there was A RAVEN sitting right next to a crow! A chance to take a photo of both of them together! But being that I don’t bring personal belongings into BSL3, the only normal camera in the room (besides the confocal microscope) was the laptop that we use for taking labnotes. By the time I had unplugged it and pointed it out the window, the raven had flown away.


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