The morning sun shines in stripes through the slats in the blinds and onto the wooden floor. There is a golden hue to the light at this time of year. I see a squirrel bounding across the yard looking around for a nut or two to store away for the quickly approaching winter but you wouldn’t know it from today’s weather. There is a slight chill to the air but the sun feels warm and welcoming. I step out onto the front porch, plastic bag in my hand. I pick a few peanuts (in the shell, unsalted of course) and toss them high in the air and onto the walkway that leads to the sidewalk. Immediately a black crow swoops down to the neighbor’s tree. It waits until I am inside then it swoops down again but this time it is right on the walkaway. It goes right for a nut and so does it’s partner. They both get a good grip with their beaks then it’s off to parts unknown across the street and behind the neighbors house.
I throw a few more nuts and the fun continues. We are joined by a pair of Scrub Jays. One squawks high atop the ornamental cherry tree broadcasting it’s new-found bounty. It hops down and captures a nut or two before the crows return. It is more timid and unsure of itself but is the first to see the three nuts I left on the step. It scores all three. Right on! I am impressed. In fact I am impressed with Corvids in general.
The Corvid Family of birds include Nutcrackers, Jackdaws, Ravens, Crows, Jays, and Magpies.
Corvids are the most intelligent of all birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals. They have a strong sense of organization and community. Most such as Crows typically mate for life. They live in family units where members of an extended family care for all the babies collectively. They are also protective of all the others in the family pod. They readily accept other adult and baby crows into the group. They form bonds and attachments. Crows are even known to visit their parents years after they leave the nest.
Crows like most successful animals are adaptable. They have excellent memories and problem solving skills. They can remember a face years after an encounter. Which can be good or bad considering the encounter.
Crows are agile learners like all Corvids. Some have even been known to make simple tools and pass on their knowledge to others of their kind through observation and imitation. Great apes are the only other animals besides Man known to use tools in such a fashion.
Crows are large, noisy, and social, and they’re not so shy in the presence of people. They have a sense of humor; they play pranks, tease other animals, and engage in aerial acrobatics for fun. They live alongside us and have found many ways to exploit our kindness and curiosity. They also give back and have been known to reward their benefactors with gifts.
They are seen as pests by farmers and city dwellers alike and a harbinger of bad things by others. They are impressive: They are loud and brassy and can be aggressive if threatened. They exhibit dramatic behavior. We find them in folklore, legends, literature and variety of artistic expressions. Their voices are used to accompany dramatic images associated with bad situations. Crows are frequently used as a symbol of death . A flock of them is called a Murder.
If any bird has a bad rap it’s this one. I think though that crows aren’t given their due when it comes to the positives of this magnificent animal.
I admire their pluck and tenacity and their intelligence. They are the ultimate survivors. They live alongside us in our cities. They thrive where others do not. They are misunderstood, underdog, misfits and considering all of this, of course I want to befriend a crow or two. I know this may sound crazy but may not not surprise you. My only concern was if the crows would want to befriend me too, hence the peanuts. This has been a natural progression of adoration for me; the more I learn about them the more I am drawn to know more.
I feed them sporadically. I don’t want them to grow dependent on my help too much I suppose; a few times a week at most. It’s the same pair. I recognize them by their trust of me not by appearance, they all do look pretty alike to my ignorant eyes. I have not given them names although I reserve the right to do so if a flight of whimsy suggests it.
I think I am well on my way to befriending these two; My friends the crows I call them. They seem to know me and we have become pretty close. The bolder one has hopped up onto the porch a foot away and looked at me before securing a peanut and flying off to stash it near the rosebush; burying it under a few leaves with it’s beak.
I feel good with this Befriending of Crows. I like to watch them. It’s better than TV to me. My daughter has recently joined me in this bird watching which has added to the enjoyment.
We are all connected and it feels wonderful! This becomes more clear as time passes: you and I, the crow, the peanut, the earth, the sea. Everything. I stand on the front porch pondering this and watching the crows, I wonder if they feel this connection too…
References and Related Articles
The girl who gets gifts from birds (BBCNews)
NATURE | Ravens | Ravens Playing in Snow | PBS
Corvids: The Birds Who Think Like Humans (io9.com)