It’s spring, and two crows were wheeling in the sky in a sort of ballet. “That looks like courtship,” I said, and Anna burst out laughing.
“What?” I said.
“Only you would name a crow Corn Chip.”
Well. I didn’t. But I will now.
Now it’s just a matter of figuring out which one Corn Chip is. And that’s the problem. Dave is in about the tenth year of a project trying to entice a crow to be his personal little buddy. It’s sad, really. Crows make friends with people all the time. Some little girl is famous for her personal crow that brings her some new bauble nearly every day. She has a whole collection. Dave doesn’t even have a bird poop collection. That’s how far away the crows stay from him.
He walks out every day and lines up peanuts on the wall for them. We’ve all heard the stories about how smart they are and how they can tell people apart and know who’s good and who’s bad. Our crows observe him from the top of a 200-foot Douglas fir and wait until he’s all the way back inside to get their nuts off. The wall. They know perfectly well it’s Dave providing the goods but they won’t give him the satisfaction of a how-do-you-do. And yet, bless his danged hopeful bones, he persists.
This spring things are looking up a little. After so many years he’s finally gotten a few crows to hang around while he flings his nuts. Naturally, we figure it’s the same crew coming around all the time. We have the idea that crows have favorite trees and even though they go downtown for the night they come right back to the same spots. But since the crows we think of as “ours” all look exactly the hell alike and have exactly the same behavior, we can’t actually name any. “That one there: the crow that ignores you, Dave,” I say, but that describes ten thousand local birds.
But we do know one distinctive crow. We have to walk about three miles to find it but it’s reliable. Half of its tail feathers are white. It is one fine and fancy crow. I always took it as further proof crows hang out in the same places all the time. This particular crow has been there for years. “Unless it’s a completely different half-white-tailed crow in the same tree every time,” Dave says, because he believes he has not yet driven me sufficiently crazy.
Crows can live a long time. One lived as long as thirty years in the wild. They sawed open his legs and counted the rings. That might have been what did him in.
|The Quintessential Portland Crow: we put a bird on it|
Supposedly the lack of pigmentation is common among urban crows, but I’ve only seen it twice. The other one had some white wing feathers. We had a kid in our grade school that had one white eyebrow and a white patch in the back of his head. It freaked me out at the time. I thought maybe it was early onset elderliness and worried it might be catching.
The condition is called leucism, because that sounds more scientific than Crow Tail Exuberation. So we should probably call this crow Lucy, but until one of our yard crows gets rid of the attitude and sweetens up, we’re going to call it Corn Chip.
If Dave puts out a few shiny objects he might get a better response. Then again maybe not. I had a couple of ravens for about eight years a long time ago. They were hilarious and smarter than many of my human neighbors. Corn Chip is a good name. If it has a partner, you might call it Bean Dip.
I will. I will.
I reported on a crow that swooped in and grabbed a piece of copper roofing before I could grab and then was told that crows collecting shiny objects was a myth…
"…he's finally gotten a few crows to hang around while he flings his nuts." LOL! Hey, Dave: Maybe you'd have better luck with the crows if you kept your pants on!
I love crows, and daily follow the blog Canuck and I. The blogger, Shawn Bergman, has a wild crow friend, Canuck, who visits him daily in Vancouver. Their obvious friendship always manages to put a smile on my face.
I have never found nut flinging to be an attractant to any species. Not that I have personally tried it, you understand.
See, Canuck just makes us mad. Why can't WE get a personal crow?
AND he's been named by popular vote as the unofficial Ambassador of Vancouver. He's a VIC (Very Important Corvid.)
I watch Canuck and Cassiar's adventures/antics/life too. In awe.
We are too consumed with envy.
According to Peter S. Beagle in "A Fine and Private Place" if Dave goes to live in a large cemetery a raven will befriend him and bring him food every day that it steals from deli's.
"Going to live in a large cemetery" sounds like a sunny take on something or other.
Love the courtship leading to corn chip. I did not know people were interested in befriending crows. I guess a crow with some white feathers might make it less hideous. How is Dave with squirrels?
Officially, he hates squirrels, but he seems to enjoy looking at them. It was some early wire-eating incident I think.
Crows hideous??? You mean their shiny, sleek, black feathers, their intelligence, sense of humor, and devotion to the family make them monstrous? Though I guess described that way, they are antithetical to a lot of humans.
Don't forget their rictal bristles!
Your Corn Chip. And Jono's Bean Dip. Awesome names 🙂
Those crows sound like cats to me. Ignoring those who want them so badly, and crawling into the arms of those who are allergic or even just anti. Or maybe they think there's a fine line between feeding and baiting, and Dave is kind of big and scary, compared to little girls who provide treats anyway.
Honestly? I think it just speaks well of Dave. Lord knows he's been feeding me for forty some years without much to show for it.
I love crows. Somewhere I've seen a photo of a single crow on a park bench. The title is "Attempted Murder."
I am a huge fan of the corvid family. I can't tell apart the ones who visit us, but it doesn't matter – they are ALL welcome.
A personal raven would be even cooler. Now, we have scrub jays around here who are much less skittish. But I haven't felt the same about them since the Nuthatch Incident.
I saw the raven when I visited last year, but couldn't even get outdoors for a photo op.6' away, through the fly wire didn't really cut it. EC has now had a raven come right up to her.
But last week a butcher bird came to our back deck. By the way, murr…being a musical person I'm sure you know the opening bars of Mzart's 40th? Well, that's the butcher bird song! So I call them Wolf gang, Amadeus and Mozart.
if you put the camera lens right up against the fly wire and focus the + on the bird, like the beak or the head, the camera will discount the wire and give you a decent shot. It takes practise. I got a great shot of a lioness at the zoo through the grid by focussing the camera on her nose, good photo with no fence grid visible.
Fly wire. Butcher bird. Y'all are making stuff up.
Fly wire is what you northerners call insect screen.
I wanted the local crows to come visit, but they are very cautious. I asked the googles what they like to eat and they said meat. That would be a good solution for my over abundance of chipmunks. But crows don’t usually kill, being opportunivores and I am loathe to kill…
You need a remotely powered chipmunk dicer.
He's been putting out peanuts for fifteen years without so much as a thank you caw? Well, that's harsh. Has Dave tried putting out the nuts and just stepping back then being as still as a statue to see if they come down while he is out there? I've never seen a crow with white feathers.
It is harsh. Thank you for that. He doesn't deserve it. This year they have deigned to come to the ground for nuts if he steps up on the porch first.
A few years ago, I told my husband Joe I wanted a wild pet crow, one that would come flying from the treetops when I stepped outside to call him in for peanuts. I imagined I could train a young one, then release it and it would always come back to me. This, of course, was just a passing fancy while having a glass of wine by the pond. (I've never trained a bird, and actually only once owned one — a parakeet that plucked out all its feathers until it looked like a pink lizard.)
Well, a few weeks later, one morning we heard quite a crow commotion in the garden. Two adult crows, on the ground, cawing their heads off and hopping about. Turns out their flightless blue-eyed baby had apparently fallen out of the nest, and was being guarded by them there in the ivy. Joe went and caught it and gave it to me. "You asked?" he said. The baby bird was well-feathered and had large claws. We only kept it for a little while, long enough to take pictures and name it Bob. It does not come when called.
Hey! Unless it was kind of skin-and-fluff, it was probably right where it needed to be. Blue-eyed baby crows flap to the ground where they stay for a few days, guarded fiercely and fed by Ma and Pa, and then they fly. I always know to look for a baby crow when I get dive-bombed!
Cool beans to know — thanks! 🙂