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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Seattle Memories - The Crows

                   They go unnoticed overhead
                   Above the supermarket malls and cities
                   Suburban fields and meadows
                   Airborne gangs dressed in black feather jackets
                   Fearless wise guys with a raucous comment
                   For the goings on below.
                                            Published:  Pulsar Poetry (UK) 2011

One of the things I’ve noticed since being retired is that I have more time to notice things. There’s never as much time as I thought there would be, but enough. I’m sitting on the front porch this fine, blue sky, Monday morning, watching crows, a murder of them—eight. A family. This is their neighborhood, they own it, it’s their turf, and air space. I have put a feeder at the edge of  our front yard for them.  

By mid November,  gulls get hungry and fly in from Puget Sound.  A lead gull flies a scanning grid of parallel paths – airborne geometry, serene high flight, an interesting thing to watch. They never miss a feeder contribution, and when such is spotted there’s a screech that brings the other members of its group. Then there’s an air war, with the crows, like fighters, against gulls, the bombers. Gulls most often win, but they are sometimes driven off by crows with higher numbers.

Since I have been observing crows, they’ve been observing me. They know my car, and follow for a block or two before I pull into my driveway. Then they wait on the roof of my house to see if I’ve brought junk food leftovers. French fries are prized, and also pasta. One crow usually hangs around to keep an eye on the feeder while perched on top a lamp post just across the street.
Such interesting birds. Some people are against them. They rob smaller bird’s nests when they find them, eat the young. I cringe while watching them patrol the fence in my back yard, scanning our evergreens for nests. Not nice, but all of us kill something to survive. A Buddhist monk’s remark: “We are all food, and the eaters of food.” All of us part of earth’s biota*

I am quid-pro-crow. They fascinate me, so damn smart—and cautious. After years of being fed, the older ones now to dare to stand their ground as close as twelve or fifteen  feet away. They watch my every move, of course,  poised for a quick escape, a burst of flight. Their mortal enemies are owls and hawks. Crows mass and chase the owls away in daytime, swirling cloud of twenty birds or more. But later on, at night, the owl returns to deftly pluck a sleeping crow from off of its branch.

I miss my family of crows. Though there are crows in Sweden, I don’t see them very often. Seems they’ve been replaced by magpies that look very much like crows dressed in tuxedos.  Doubt we’ll ever have a close relationship–don’t speak their language.


A well dressed magpie

* Biota: The total collection of organisms of a geographic region or a time period, from local geographic scales and instantaneous temporal scales all the way up to whole-planet and whole-timescale spatiotemporal scales. (Wikipedia)

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