Thursday, June 13, 2013


Photo courtesy Flickr
A couple of weeks ago, I wondered where the squirrels were, the grey ones from London that are on a hit list as invasive species. Their absence has left the neighborhood far more peaceful. The in-house field scientist wondered, too. We speculated that the newly urban crows and squirrels compete for the same nesting space in local tall trees.

He called from the office the next morning to say that while waiting for the bus, he’d witnessed a crow attack. The crow stooped onto a squirrel, sinking its talons into the animal a couple of times. The squirrel got away, but Science Guy said it looked as if the crow were trying to drive the squirrel into the path of a car. He added that crows have been found to be as intelligent as great apes.

Last year a bulldozer took down a turn of the century house. The crows, who loved to hang out on the gutters, screamed and cried for a whole afternoon. The next day I bought them a consolation pound of hamburger and tossed the open package onto the excavation. Masters of gesture, the crows devoured the raw meat and stood around looking like the living picture of malevolence. 

After hearing the squirrel story, I remembered demolition day and looked at the flock with apprehension. I love them, and our relationship is untainted by self-interest. Except for the pound of raw meat, I haven’t fed them. For a week, though, I’ve been reserved. 

Several days ago, a crow called out a soft head’s up as I went out. It took a few seconds to catch on, but I said hello. The next day, a crow cawed at me as I sat behind blinds at my work table, and I nodded in acknowledgement. A day later I took a nap in a closed room, and a crow cawed relentlessly until I pulled up the shades and said hi.

Sunday morning, I looked out an open window to see if a crow was around. The lookout on the telephone wire rose into the air, collected a buddy, and did a low flyby. On the pass back, they showcased their flying skills and were then joined in a complex flying ball by a third bird.

See what you get when you don’t spook them in the winter, when every calorie counts?


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