No, I’m not talking about myself or my sisters this time. Although I have been called “the old crow” on numerous occasions, as far as I know I’ve never been called “crafty” so this post is about the feathered kind.
There have always been quite a few crows around my yard. At times I have seen up to 20 of them hanging out together, cawing and cackling in the trees, chasing each other and generally having a fun time while planning their next caper.
And they do plan these things. Once, they spotted a chipmunk under a large forsythia bush in the front yard. Four of them flew down and surrounded the bush. Thinking that they had him cornered, they closed in but the little devil was too fast for them this time and scooted out. Crows are very smart, but chipmunks are very fast.
When you decide it’s finally time to get rid of that stale bread you’ve been saving in your kitchen for some unknown reason, tear it into small pieces and scatter it in your backyard. They will come down and take each piece one at a time, put it into a big pile, then stuff that pile into their mouths and fly off. If it’s a little too stale and hard, they will first stick it in the birdbath to soften it up before taking it away. I wonder if they like that little green stuff that’s growing on the crust.
Besides being the best birth controllers of bugs and small rodents, they are also one of natures great clean-up crews. Once, after having a small roasted chicken for dinner, (you know the ones in the grocery store, already cooked, still steaming, crispy brown skin, mmmm) I thought I would set the carcass outside to see what would happen. Didn’t take long. Down they came landing about 6 feet away from it. Not quite sure what to make of this featherless, almost meatless, bony bird, they circled it, slowly inching closer and closer until one was finally near enough to stretch out and take a small bite. Since it didn’t bite back, the rest of them moved in and picked that carcass clean. I figured when there was no more meat left, I would go out there, pick up the bones and throw them in the trash, but before I could do that, one of them picked up the skeleton and flew off with it!! It was as big as he was!! Where he took it, I have no idea, but I’m sure someone around here wondered where in the world that chicken skeleton came from that was lying in their front yard. Sorry about that.
Then the West Nile Virus came to the U.S. First mentioned in the news in 1999, it didn’t seem to affect the crows in this area until about 2001. Then every year there were fewer and fewer crows, until there were only 3 or 4 of these great birds in my trees. I would look at them and think, “Come on guys, you can do it, fight this stupid, deadly virus. Mice and chipmunk populations are getting out of control, bugs are rampant, nature is askew. We need you”
Fast forward to yesterday morning. Hearing a lot of squawking and screeching and wondering what the heck…… I went outside and there they were. Fourteen crows (yes, I counted them) in my tree. Cawing and cackling and chasing each other from branch to branch just like old times. Down to the ground to eat the craneflys that are now numbering in the zillions (no, I did not count them). Crows flying from the back to the front, to the neighbors and back again. Whoo hoo!!!! Welcome back guys, and if you eat all those craneflys I’ll give you a chicken for dessert.