The great Crow Buddy Project has entered a new phase.
We’ve been working on personal crows for years. There were always a few around, and it became clear that they were the same few. Just because all the world’s crows look a lot alike doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. They’re specific crows. A family. And we knew they recognized us and knew a lot about us.
We knew that because everybody knows that by now. You can read all about it. As far as our crows were concerned, though, if they did know a lot about us, they weren’t impressed.
Initially, we were aiming high. We not only wanted crows to come get our walnuts, we wanted them to ask for them, preferably when we had company. We walked around the yard with our nuts out yelling HEY, WALNUT BOY! Ultimately we wanted our crows to yell Hey Walnut Boy at us—you know, with an accent—when we were entertaining on the patio. We aimed too high. They did not give one goopy shit about us. What dopes, they thought. Walking around saying the same damn thing over and over, they thought.
But a few years later they either came around a teeny tiny bit or their kids did. We switched over to peanuts and before long they started landing clankily on the gutters when we went outside. We tossed peanuts ever closer and closer to ourselves and finally achieved Proximal Personal Crows who might get within three feet of us for a peanut on a good day, and who, more importantly, began doing swoopities to get our attention. I admit: it felt good. It felt affirming. If we were walking back from the grocery store, when we’d get to our own block there’d be a swoopity and a crow would dip right in front of us, adjourn to the power lines, and wait for the peanut. All our pockets have peanuts in them. So does our washing machine.
Nobody said nothing about no Walnut Boy. We settled for being swoopited at. It was an acknowledgment, at least.
There are four. Dickens and DooDah are the main team and there are two auxiliary crows we assume are their kids. Even if we launch enough peanuts for each one, the younger ones hang back. One in particular never gets a peanut, not ever. If he tries for one he gets stapled on the head instead and Mommy gets two peanuts. Poor Booboo.
Dickens and DooDah are occupied making new crows again. Now we have just one regular crow in the garden. It’s Booboo! The kid could’ve helped out with the new brood—they’ll do that—but this one the hell didn’t. He is strutting in our yard like he owns the title.
Where you going? DooDah wants to know.
What are you going to do?
Nothing. Booboo stretches one wing, scratches his head, and drifts off. You stay on them eggs, Mommo, he mutters under his beak. Imma get mine.
I knew he was different when he marched right up to me on the back porch and stared at me. Pointedly, which is how they stare. I went inside for a peanut and came out and he was still there. Without a doubt this is our friend with the dented head. He’s been watching all along. He thinks we’re cool. And he thinks the world owes him a lot of back pay in peanuts.
Now he comes within a foot of us for a peanut. It’s not asking out loud. But when you’re courting, you take what you can get.
So now that he’s a foot away I’m aiming higher. Intimacy. Specifically, I would like to be able to scritch Booboo on the head. I think he’d like it if he gave me a chance.
Then I could see if his mom left a divot. But should I?
Should we keep wild creatures wild? Will there be a disturbance in the force? Do I care? HOW NEEDY AM I? Stay tuned.