The Crow June 16, 2016

imageA month or so ago, I saw crows flying from our neighbour’s yard, across our yard, and to the next, carrying long strands of stringy somethings in their beaks. Lately, there has been much more crow chatter than usual. A new family in the neighbourhood, I take it.

Today, when I was sitting out on the deck, a young crow sat up in the maple and cawed at me loudly, angrily, like I was the intruder. For a long time. I wanted to go inside. Instead, I grabbed a bit of dog kibble from inside. I held up a piece of dog food high in the air, and then with some flourish, left it on the railing of the deck and stepped back. The crow sat for minute, flew to the eve trough, and then down to the railing where he snatched the food and quickly flew away. A few minutes later he came back, and we repeated the ritual. This time, a bit less timid. He hasn’t been back, and I’ve been enjoying peace and quiet ever since. My hope is that if I make friends, Mike and I won’t be harassed. Experience would seem to back this up, and I have lots of dog food.

A few years ago, crows built a nest in the fir tree between our house and the neighbour’s. Mike thought, what if we made a show of putting a few pieces of dog food out on the railing of our deck? It worked. The parents took part. The baby crows hatched, and once they were able to fly, they took part, too. I was surprised that even when the babies got almost as large as their parents, the family still stayed together. It must have been a crowded nest. We never had a problem coexisting in our yard with this family. Our neighbours, on the other hand, did have a problem. One day, neighbour Anne, said, “We see you guys out in your yard all the time. How come the crows don’t bother you? We can’t even use our yard- they dive bomb us all the time.” I told her about our attempt to make friends with the crows. I don’t know what she did with the information, but I don’t think it helped. It also didn’t help our dogs, who definitely didn’t subscribe to the make-peace-not-war philosophy. I’ve never met a dog who doesn’t hate crows.

I can’t help but feel like I’m supposed to find some lesson in this, something relating to the shooting in Orlando, my questions about how I can make the path easier for others. Is it about bribing your tormentors? I really hope not! Showing that you are not a threat, providing reassurance that the family is safe from me? Or simply taking an interest in your potential tormentor? I don’t know. But somewhere in this there is lesson about how we can better live with each other.

I really was interested – no, fascinated watching that family of crows, especially the four young ones. They were so curious! One sunny afternoon, I spied on them as they inventoried the roof of our shed, flipping over a small stone, picking up a berry, then dropping it, pecking at things I couldn’t see. Sometimes one would find some small something and the others would huddle around to see what the other had found. It was hard not to think of them as a four of children:

Hey, guys, look what I found. This thing is weird!
What is that?
Hey, lemme see! Move outta the way!
Is it dangerous?
‘Course not, silly, it’s just tiny.
I said, let me see!
It IS weird. Can I hold it?
Just a second…
Is it food?
Stop hogging it!
Just a second…
You need to let someone else have a turn!
Just a second…
Yah, I wanna hold it!
All right, suit yourself.
Yuck- that’s not food!
Guys you have to move over- let me see!
I know, it’s funny tasting though.
Awe, you guys are such babies. That’s nothin’.
Well it’s something.
LET ME SEE!
Yah, but it’s not a good something
Hey, look at that over there!
Oh wow, yah, what’s that?
I don’t know. It’s weird though.
It is weird…
Hey, let me see!

What did neighbour Anne see when she saw the crows?
July 11, 2016 update. I’ve thought about this journal entry a few times since I wrote it. I think it’s only fair to report back that in the weeks following this journal entry, the crows drove me fucking nuts. While they didn’t dive bomb me, they were terribly, loudly obnoxious. However, something seems to have happened about the time we went to 100 Mile over the July 1 long weekend. Right now, it’s about 9:30 am and I am enjoying a cup of coffee on the deck. The sky is a bright beautiful blue, with whispy clouds floating by. I’m listening to the breeze rustle the maple tree, and the occasional bird chirp. I suddenly realize there is no crow cawing, neither near nor in the distance, and there hasn’t been for the last week. I wonder what happened. A predator? An angry neighbour? Regardless, their absence is appreciated. Very much.

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