Any day with a crow in it is full of promise.
This is a true crow story, with photos and words to sketch a rough portrait of what I have seen at a bus stop near Seattle. Something wondrous happens every day.
March 15, 2006
The usual crowd gathered at the bus stop after work and confirmed my idea that they like dry cat food best of all the things I've brought. They greedily gobbled the cat food kibbles and carefully ignored some bread I'd tossed in with it. I suppose some crows snuck back later, but the lonely little pile of crumbs was still lying there as I climbed aboard the bus.
Afterward, they all flew onto high perches, some to clean their beaks and others to sit quietly. I watched as one couple sat on a tree branch and affectionately cuddled together. I'd read birds kiss, and sure enough, that had to be what they were doing. After all, it's spring.
April 4, 2006
Some days there are only three or four crows that follow me to the bus stop. This afternoon, I didn't see any. But as I sat on the bus, I noticed a loner perched on the bus sign with what I will describe as a puzzled look on his face. (I admit I am anthropomorphizing here.) The bus driver assured me he wouldn't leave for a few more minutes, and so I kindly climbed out to leave a portion of cat food for the lone beggar.
April 5, 2006
There are many changes taking place as spring arrives.
April 9, 2006
Today is all about nests.
But it turns out this is the way crows build their nests. While leaves are still forming on trees, look up into the branch skeletons and you will see lumps of twigs that are indeed nests. Long ago, I've read, poor peasants gathered firewood under crows' nests, knowing that when the crows haphazardly rebuilt their nests, excess wood would eventually fall to the ground.
April 14, 2006
I would like to film crows in flight, although no camera could create the stirring feeling that comes only in the reality of the moment. Today, I wished I had a video camera to film Mr. Fancy Pants gliding past me, landing across the street, and, after carefully looking both ways, hopping across. A car came by, sending him back to his side. But then he hopped powerfully acrossno dainty bird-steps hereand stood looking at me hopefully. Of course he got his edible reward.
Later, on a busier street, as I was waiting for the light to change to cross to my bus stop, I heard a pitter patter coming up the path behind me through a clump of trees. I was startled to see a crow emerge. Perhaps April 14 is Hop Everywhere Day for crows.
I gave him a handful of kibble and watched with interest as he took a mouthful and walked to a nearby lawn. You never know where they are going to hide their treasures. I was amused to see he carefully covered it with a seed pod from a nearby tree. It might be there when he wants it; it might not.
May 2, 2006
It never ceases to thrill me when a crow barely misses me to fly past or allows me to stand near while he eats. This morning, Mr. Fancy Pants spied me getting off the bus, and first perched on a roof, then a sign, and finally landed on the corner by the light where I was standing.
People now notice the crows following me and comment on it. They seem astonished, pointing it out to me in case I hadn't noticed it myself.
This morning, Mr. Fancy Pants hopped companionably beside me in the crosswalk and on the other side of the street jumped on a small stone wall to get his well-earned treat.
I habitually drop the kibble (which he eats in the morning, rather than hiding for later) and stand still rather than moving a few feet away. He hesitates only a moment before coming close. If I move suddenly, he is quick to get away, but otherwise he is touchingly trusting.
May 3, 2006
Mr. Fancy Pants didn't greet me this morning, and I felt a little sad. But I understand the crows can be busy, so I just went on my way. But close to the door of the building where I work, a crow landed near me. I think it was the male of the couple that sometime ask appealingly for food. In any case, he got his kibble, and I watched his right foot to see what was on it.
Recently at the bus stop, Mr. Fancy Pants chased off a small crow who had a growth on his left foot. I never saw him again, but it showed me that crows can be deformed. (I read that deformed crows can be lovingly accepted or horribly rejected by crow families; there are no predictable standards.)
This one with the odd-looking right foot turned out to be merely untidy. I suspect his nest is in the evergreen tree by the door, and this morning it appeared he had left hurriedly: it was a small dark grey feather stuck to his foot. How embarrassing!
May 4, 2006
If anyone doubts birds have emotions, they must stop to listen. I walked out my building after work and did my usual sky-scan to see if any crows were around. I spotted two on the roof. A creature of habit myself, I assumed they would swoop down, so I pulled out the kibble bag by way of preparation.
But then I realized one was talking to the other: a cawing-cooing that sounded odd to my ears after becoming accustomed to food noises (cawing in various pitches, disappointed raspberry-like beak scritching). They both ignored me, while the one continued in a variety of pitches that, the longer I listened, seemed more and more like a kind of love poem. It was beautiful.
May 5, 2006
Crows are indeed very busy as summer approaches. Only Mr. Fancy Pants hangs out with me now at the bus stop in the afternoon. The only crow, that is, since he fought off one or two others that dared to invade his territory. I tried to encourage sharing by putting kibble in two separate piles, but Mr. Fancy Pants managed to claim them both.
And of course he doesn't actually eat his treats, but flies off to hide them. Since this is often in newly mown grass or around landscaped shrubbery, you have to wonder what the gardeners think when they find the small stashes of cat food.
May 14, 2006More about nests.
One last word . . . for this season at least. At present I am not working near where Mr. Fancy Pants and his pals hang out. Golly, I miss them!
I've seen lots of crows in my travels since May, but have not been able to develop a relationship with them. Time, persistence, kind curiosity, some food . . . these will earn you friendship with a crow. Keep some kibble in your pocket . . . you never know . . .
October 26, 2006
I left the area for three months and wondered if my crows would remember me.
The day I returned, I carried a small baggie filled with cat food to the bus stop in the afternoon, just in case. As I walked, I eyed the treetops, the sky, the lower branches . . . no crows.
As I crossed the street to the bus stop, I heard cawing. My heart soared! A lone crow flew down to meet me, obviously waiting for his handout. As I tossed a handful of kibble in his direction, suddenly I was in the midst of a fluttering swarm of crows.
Glorious, glorious crows!
I counted over a dozen, some looking young and new, some old and familiar, like Mr. Fancy Pants, who was definitely still in charge. Sadly, I ran out of food almost immediately. Still, the lot waited patiently, eyeing me expectantly. I promised them more tomorrow.
Whether they understood me or not, I can't say, but they watched me carefully while I climbed on the bus.
Mary Rosewood ©2016