Saturday, October 4, 2008

Crafty Crows

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.


Anonymous said...

Loved the crow story. We have heard plenty of them lately. I swear the other day they never stopped cawing. Have no idea why they were making such a racket. Probably should have gotten out the binoculars and watched. Lots of buzzards also flying around looking for a juicey dinner. Middle sis.

flydragon said...

I really hope they make a great comeback. I wasn't kidding about the mice, chipmunks and bugs. There were a bunch of buzzards flying around here this morning, too. Wonder what they were up to.

Anonymous said...

Buzzards probably heard about the dead chicken carcass out there in your yard:-) I also loved the story!


flydragon said...

lol Pretty funny comment about the buzzards.
You and Betty liked this story because it wasn't about the other old crows. This time.

Anonymous said...

Hey ladies, when you see the buzzards, keep moving. Don't want them to think you are dinner!

Fla Brat

beckie said...

Crows are funny birds and I have seen them tease other birds and cats.As you say they can be very crafty and do appear quite intelligent. Sadly, we don't see many here anymore and I never though it might be because of W. Nile. Glad you are seeing more of them-maybe they will make a comeback.

Far Side of Fifty said...

By George I think I got it! The answer!! Ready?? The moldy bread you have been feeding the crows helped them to become resistant to the Bird have single handedly been saving the crows. You could be famous! Great Story I loved it! :)

Anonymous said...

You need to take care of that one of yours in Florida!!! Am not sure how I feel about her comments! But know where she gets it heeeeeeeeheeeeee.

Like the idea about the green penicillin on the breadcrumbs. Don't forget the rest of us when you become famous!!

flydragon said...

fla brat,
When I see vultures flying around up there I'll make sure to wave my arms. I figure turkey buzzards are only looking for old turkeys.....hmmmmm, on second thought.......

The virus really wiped them out in some places, Ohio was hit pretty hard. Hopefully the worst is over.

far side,
Eureka!!!I knew I was saving that bread for a reason, and not just being too lazy to throw it out!!! Dr. Flydragon, that's me.

If my arm could stretch that far, I'd slap her along side the head. And don't worry, when I'm famous I will never forget my two old cro..I mean old si..I mean old...

Not Very Anonymous Mom said...

didn't miss the crows so much as i missed the blue jays. i'm really glad they've rebounded, i had a family in my backyard again this year.

we've all tried slapping her, it doesn't work! let's try hitting her on the head with a loaf of frozen bread!

flydragon said...

The bluejays in my yard didn't seem to be affected by the virus. There were always quite of few of them here.
Frozen bread so it won't leave marks?

Anonymous said...

You already tried that too! I remember very well. If you guys came to visit, you could reach me to slap me in person. I guess I will just have to come back up there and visit and give you all a chance! We will visit before the end of the month. So plan a day when you are all free (between the 19th and the 25th).

Fla Brat

flydragon said...

fla brat,
whoo hoo. We'll be ready with the frozen bread. Better be wearing your helmet.

Susie said...

Okay, I'm just imagining that bird flying through the air carrying that chicken skeleton. How funny!!! Never thought a crow would like chicken. What a great story flydragon.

Dog_geek said...

My dad had a pet crow when he was growing up, and told some amazing stories about it. His crow would steal any shiney object (including bait minnows) and fly up to the roof to shove it under one of the shingles. I've always wondered if the roof on that house was ever replaced, and what the roofers thought of all the coins, costume jewelry, and minnow skeletons under the shingles.

raccoonlover1963 said...

I have only, in the past couple of years, started seeing crows again. I hadn't seen them since I was a little girl. Farmers always had scarecrows in their gardens and the birds were everywhere, then it seems like they completely disappeared for several years. It's funny to watch some of the things they do!

flydragon said...

It was hilarious. Of all the times to be without the camera!! Crows wouldn't go after a live chicken but they do like them when they're cooked nice and brown:)

They are so clever. Watching them do some of the stuff they think up just makes me laugh out loud. Those roofers were most certainly scratching their heads when they saw what was under those shingles!!

I know the farmers don't like the crows and were probably pretty happy when the virus killed so many of them. Don't blame them a bit either. But for the rest of us, they do come in handy, taking care of pests and providing a bit of entertainment along the way.

Roses and Lilacs said...

I see very few crows here anymore. I know they do a great cleanup job on roadkill.

More than the crows I miss the blue jays that are succumbing to west nile. They are one of my favorites.

flydragon said...

I too, love the bluejays. Not only are they gorgeous, but they have the best warning system of all. When something is amiss in the yard you can hear them calling out right down the line from tree to tree. Thankfully I still have quite a few of them in the yard.

TC said...

I've not seen many crows around here lately. But didn't really notice till I read your post.

flydragon said...

I wouldn't have noticed much either but for the extensive news coverage about west nile and the spraying the city did a couple of years back to kill the mosquitoes to keep it from spreading to people.