Crow in a Stall

Crow in a Stall, rickzimerman 2010
Crow in a Stall, rickzimerman 2010

This article refers to a particular specimen of the genus Corvus (of the family Corvidae) finding itself in a situation of reduced lift due to unintended anomalies of its flight pattern.

For other uses, such as one singing aloud in a partitioned restroom cubicle, see Crow in a (Toilet) Stall.

The unfortunate creature depicted here happens to be a Northwestern Crow, an all-black passerine bird that favors the urbanized areas throughout Washington State and along coastal reaches of British Columbia. (Those of you from Europe and parts of Africa know of such birds as Ravens.) Nominally a foraging bird favoring fish, shellfish, insects, frogs, worms, small crabs and the eggs of other birds, it will, however, gladly accept any edible handout or roadkill or refuse item — potato chips, extremely flat squirrels, watermelon rinds, chicken wings, bread crusts, lettuce leaves, M&Ms, day-old pizza scraps, eviscerated opossum, popcorn, breaded nuggets, corn cobs, French fries, rib bones, ketchup packs, Little Debbie cakes, the remains of that volcano taco you just couldn’t manage to finish — well, you get the general idea. This dark scavenger is also quite adept at remembering exactly from which locale it got its last free meal — and will patiently return again and again for months on end for more discarded or vehiculared snackage.

Too bad it’s not so good at remembering exactly what was being covered during the second half-hour lecture in Avian Aeronautics 101 regarding ‘Spins, Stalls and Emergency Recovery of Proper Flight Attitude’ back at the brood nest.

For this airborne (but perhaps not for very much longer) dude is now stuck in a stall.

Technically speaking, a stall is the condition in which the required lift coefficient of an airfoil (or wing) is no longer being met, due to an improper angle of attack into the wind.

Crow-speaking, this idiot flared his wings too step for his speed, causing separated airflow, with the resultant loss of both forward speed and altitude.

Worse yet, he carelessly let one wing stall slightly after the other, creating an asymmetrical stall, thereby throwing him into a severe spin that caused him to quickly black out. Now, the slack-billed drooling bird is dropping like nothing so much as a fat feathery black rock. His survival will certainly depend on whether he can come to and maneuver out of this stall before he makes achingly abrupt contact with the hot macadam of Interstate Highway 5 as it wends its way out of the town of Custer, WA far below.

When — and if — this crow awakens, he’ll have to simultaneously increase his airspeed while reducing his angle of attack. That is, he’ll have to bring the leading edges of his wings downward, which is readily and most typically achieved by lowering his head as well. Then, if sufficient distance should happen to remain between his black feathered belly and the rapidly approaching black ribbon of asphalt below to allow him to make the necessary corrective upward swoop, he may live to savor armadillo fricassee once again.

A markerCuster, WA -
Custer, WA, USA
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