Sunday, March 16, 2014

Crows and ravens...

I have been fascinated by crows for as long as I can remember. My mother used to tell of a local small town character who had a pet crow, he had raised it from a chick. According to legend, he had split the crows tongue, and the bird could talk. As a child I couldn't wrap my head around what would possess a person to split a birds tongue, how cruel! And why would doing that enable the bird to speak?

My mom said the crow would fly all over town, stealing shiny objects. I liked shiny things, too, and thought this was an endearing trick. She also said the crow would come to her house and remove the clothes pins from her line, dropping damp, freshly laundered clothes and diapers on the ground. Such naughtiness fascinated me. The crow was reported to ride on his owners shoulder all around town, talking a blue streak.

When we moved to Maine I noted crows flying over our property often, but they never landed here. That changed when I got chickens. The crows would swoop in to eat grain I tossed out for the hens, and I was delighted to have them here. I began to toss food out just for them... crusts of bread or left overs from supper. My friend Liz loves crows, too, and she told me she called to hers. "What do you say?" I asked, curious. She looked at me quizzically and replied, "Here, crows!" The next day as I threw out some left over pasta and sauce I tried it. "HERE CROWS!" I yelled into the empty morning. I felt a little silly. The crows were used to my routine and saw me putting the food out for them. As soon as I was safely back inside the house they swooped in. I repeated this the next day, "HERE CROWS" I self consciously cried. A crow called in response, and two swooped in close to the top of the old Maple tree.

Ravens come less frequently, bigger than the crows, and more elusive.

It's been years now. This morning crow breakfast consisted of a left over sandwich my daughter brought from a restaurant. I'm not so self conscious when I holler to invisible birds now. I counted this morning. After my voice rang out it was one second before a crow called to the north, and 5 seconds before the first one was on the food I offered. They don't speak as humans, of course, but they communicate with me freely. I still find them fascinating. They find me handy to have around.

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