I feed a family of crows. Some of you know this, those of you who are on Facebook with me get to read about the morning actions of this little family pretty frequently. I've been feeding them for a few years now so I've observed three seasons of fledglings. When I first started with the feedings there was only one baby that year. A sweet little crow that had mom, dad and a couple juvenile spouses hovering over him/her. A very spoiled little crow.
This first crow was very brave and far less skittish around me, perhaps because it had grown up and learned to come into the yard when I called in the early morning and put out left over protein scraps. The mated pair - mom and dad - are loud and shrill and won't tolerate my looking up into the tree and acknowledging their existence ... even though they sit directly over my head at times. One good stare from me and they flee to a distant tree, screeching a warning for the world to hear "DON'T LOOK AT ME!" Meanwhile, the little fledgling would watch this tactic, look down at me, make a little "mew" sound as if to say "what the heck was that all about?"
This year there are two young ones. By late summer they are getting much stronger and more adept at flying. They still have a slightly brown head vs. the glimmering black of the adult. They are much smaller then their parents and haven't quite found their "voice" yet ... a bit of bubbling and chirping at times instead of a solid "Caw".
A friend gave me a crow caller - which I've tried out several times. It's hard to make it sound like anything other then a duck or a very loud fart - and my crows aren't buying it. But it's gotten some funny reactions! Because they have excellent memory for faces they know me now. Actually they know my car, my dog and can even recognize me on my bike with helmet and sunglasses on - more then some of my friends can do! But when I step out into the yard they will swoop in now, even when I'm not feeding them. So one afternoon I stepped out and waited for a crow to come into the nearby trees so I could try out the crow call. I blew into the whistle shaped caller and a shrill "quack" escaped. This juvenile crow tilted h/her head and looked down at me as though saying "was that you?" I tried it again. This time she ruffled her entire body and lifted her wings as if to try and shake off this weird noise coming from this human down below. The third time she lost patience and took off proudly demonstrating what a crow should sound like.
The other morning I went out to feed them. I had been giving them fat I'd cut off a pork chop. They really liked this food so when I stepped out they were clearly impatient for me to drop the food and go back inside. But I was waiting for my dog, Ella, to complete her morning business so I wasn't going in right away. The ruckus got louder until the entire family of six birds was literally yelling at me! Wow. I looked up at one and said "HEY! Ask me nicely!" There was silence immediately ... and one of the young ones looked down and gave that sweet little "cawk" sound. I said "thank you" and Ella and I went inside.
This little family of crows got me off the couch a billion years ago when Jim, who was not doing real well and had a lot of trouble walking, had fallen down the stairs and we had spent the entire day in the ER. Laying on the couch that afternoon when we finally got home I thought I might never be able to move again. But then this family of crows appeared. Being excited that I may have found their nest right outside my living room window I pulled myself off the couch to watch them ... and thus found one more tiny reserve of energy to keep going. On some of the mornings when I wake too early I will hear my crows in the distance and know that I'm not the only one up with the first light in the sky.
I'm finding more and more reasons to keep going these days. I'm feeling a new excitement about life again, something I truly didn't believe possible. And always I am in tune with the calls of this family of crows who share this neighborhood with me; who help me smile first thing in the morning, who watch and know when I have gotten out of bed, who recognize and tolerate my strange actions .... and talk to me when no one else is around.
Loving you all back,