I’m walking outside, and there, on top of my topiary salamander, is a tiny plant that looks an awful lot like one I’d put in my flower boxes, only sadder and upside-down. And on the sidewalk, there was yet another, roots-up. Huh. Two of my five flower boxes have been raided and their contents strewn about. It looked like the work of adolescents in need of some impulse control applied to their pimply butts.
I suspect this even though I know there are miscreant corvids in the ‘hood who make a point of pulling up shallow-rooted little plants. They are looking for nesting material and they don’t really care all that much if it cost $3.99 for a 4-inch pot, especially the scrub jays, who can be downright disrespectful that way. But usually they’ll just take one or two plants out of the boxes. They won’t strip them clean.
Still, it is nesting season. Crows make a big ol’ stick nest and line the center portion with nice soft material, and the nursery doesn’t call them “bedding plants” for nothing. And of the eight plants that had been uprooted, I only found four plants. So maybe a crow did pull them out and brought them back home. And half of them didn’t make the cut. “Too matchy-matchy,” says the female, back at the nest. Or, “Again with the purple?”
We’ve got a couple good working crow nests within sight of our yard. One of them has been emitting a raspy bleat brraaak brraaak brraaak every ten seconds for days now. Periodically the bleats speed up, and sure enough an adult is circling the tree, and then you see him land and you can hear something being jammed down a throat, brraaak brraaak bluph bluph blaKACK KACK KACK, and there’s a fifteen-second pause, and then it’s back to your regularly scheduled bleating. I get a kick out of it. I think: this is how nature provides for the helpless babies in the world. It makes them totally obnoxious and they never shut up and all anyone can think to do is go out and find something to jam in the noise hole.
Then I read up on the crow manufacturing process. And it turns out it’s not the baby up there making the racket. It’s the adult female. And she does this even before laying any eggs. She doesn’t shut up until the eggs pop out, at which point there’s a cone of silence over the nest so as not to alert predators; or else because she finds the egg thing too astonishing for words.
And all this time I thought Dave fed me because he loves me.