Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anecdotal Crow (with Butterfly)

(photo, Janis Ringuette)

My big black cat had brought a fledgling crow
into my bedroom early one morning, all panic
(on the crow's part) and pride (not me!).
Cats insert their fangs into a potential meal
just enough to disable them, so that there still
remains some flapability in the bird, some
feline entertainment. But I was to have none
of that: I quickly removed the baby crow
from the much dismayed Tip, and, being
somewhat of a mother-bird myself, fixed up
a box with fresh grasses, where I placed
the injured bird. Silly, I know.
My boys were perhaps 7 and 9, and they
hovered nearly as much as I did. Our little crow
occasionally squawked, bewildered.
Later on, after dinner, I placed the box on the
flat roof of my garage, and until darkness fell,
an adult crow stood sentry, pacing back and forth
along the roof-edge. Of course, by morning,
the baby was dead.

The next winter, I was up early on a Sunday morning,
enjoying the quiet with the newspaper and coffee.
Then I heard an irregular tick tick coming from
the front of the house. I stopped and listened; it stopped
and then started again. Something was hitting
my front windows: was there someone on the sidewalk
tossing bits of gravel at my house?
When I went to the front door (a big old-fashioned
door that was mostly glass), I saw my big old black
cat Tip leaning against the door as if he could make
it open if only he could press hard enough. What the --?
And then I heard it again, tick. And I saw a fir cone
bounce off the window: up in the Douglas fir
was a crow, picking cones with his/her beak, and
lobbing them at my cat.

Of course, I was amazed. Did this crow remember
that this cat murdered it's baby? Possibly. Likely.
Crows are known to "use" objects.
Crows are crafty, and wily.

When I opened the door, Tip varoomed into the house,
safe at last. And after that, I noticed that the local
crows dive-bombed him whenever he was outside.

Old Tip's hunting days are now long over. He went
through a phase of hunting Western Tiger Swallowtail
butterflies -- an odd sight, as he'd grasp his prey right
in the center, so that the wings fanned out on either side
of his mouth. Against the black fur it was a startling sight.


  1. The kingbirds around here dive bomb the cats when their fledglings are learning to fly. Since even adult kingbirds aren't all that big, you have to give them big points for valor, & they drive the cats crazy. But I've never heard it going to that point. Crows are really smart animals.

  2. Hey, T...

    This UW professor guy, Bob something I think, but I forget, used to come by here to buy products from Guate, when my house was the warehouse, for 3-4 years in a row. Christmas gifts, always, for family and friends. He was a "crow man", about "our age". He particularly wanted all the beaded keychains that were birds, and aprons. About 2 years ago, just when the "warehouse" was moved to a storage unit,I heard an NPR special on crows, but which also mentioned him as a "recently deceased" expert on crows. He always spoke of crows as the epitomy of bird intelligence. He would joke about why in-the-heck Guatemalans never made beaded crow keychains -- just toucans, parrots, etc. He was sorta charming. Crows were his "life work". He seemed to absolutely adore them --go figure.

  3. It's the down side of being a cat lover.

    Elvis turned to face me the other day with half a lizard hanging out of his vicious little mouth. Once he'd have run away with it - or growled and swiped at me if I tried to take it. But he's beginning to grow out of his totally absorbed serial killer phase - and so he just dropped it.

    I really like how you told this story. Concise, sublime... Beautiful header too.

  4. I'm glad that you found me on your journeys around the world.

    I love crows and have great respect for them. That's not to say that they aren't loud, blood-thirsty and like to hold a grudge. Forever.

    It is the time again for baby crows and I'll keep my fingers crossed that the little ones on my block thrive. And that I don't walk to close to them when I don't know they're there.