Crows and the human 'murder'

by Jamie Lutton

I remembered  something that I did when I was about four.  My  mother remembered it too, and used to tell the story back to me now and then as I grew up, and when I was an adult.. This was something she liked to do; she was the family history keeper.

We were alone together in the kitchen, in our home in Western Maryland.. I am her youngest child of five. I don't remember what time of year it was or anything but that I had grabbed a box of instant rice, and took handfuls of the stuff, and threw it out onto the floor, scattering it all over. My mother, (who had seen everything, with so many children), asked me mildly what I was doing. "feeding the chickens" I said.

I probably had never seen a real chicken in my life, except on our (black and white) TV. Maybe this was from seeing Wizard of Oz; in the beginning there is a chicken feeding scene. But the my four year old self could see the chickens, and they looked mighty hungry.
 
This turned into my Mother's favorite story about me that she would tell family and strangers.

 I am wondering about that crow that followed me for years, until I fed it. I wonder if we are being domesticated by the crows, as we domesticated dogs, cats, cattle.  Perhaps centuries from now, when most other wildlife is gone, we will all have crows that come to us, and they will eat our scraps.  They might tame us; with their direct stares, repeated cawing, and looping, head diving flying.

They are perhaps wooing us, a human at a time, so that they can be moved from the category of pests to pets. This would be a good ecological stratagem for them, considering the fate of most of the other animals in the world, and what we have done to them.  They may have intuited what might be best for their future progeny.

It would be a different pattern than other pets. Wolves and wild cats probably had their kits and pups kidnapped, to be raised as pets by humans.  The adult crows, seeing us  humans eat in public constantly, may intuit that this is a good murder (the collective noun for crows) to hang about, and may be psyching us out, to see what it would take to safely get in line for chow.  People eat more in public than they used to, in the late 20th and early 21st century; we are always on the run with a latte in one hand and a pastry  or fast food burger in the other.  The crows know the taste of fast food, and they want their share.

I keep thinking about the crow who dropped a chewed-on fast food chicken leg on my head, last year. Maybe he was trying to feed me, to let me know he was hungry.  And the same with the crow who brought back the rancid chicken scrap, and left it at my feet, that I had thrown to him five days earlier. Perhaps there is an attempt at a compact, here.

The crows may be  (ritually?) bringing me a bit of food, to let me know they want food. The adult crow will stuff food down a yearling crow, that is adult sized, if the crow comes up to him or her and begs, by flapping it's wings and cawing loudly. Perhaps they are explicitly begging, by bringing me food, to let me know they want to join my murder.

I wonder if there are other reports of crows bringing food samples to humans, to try to teach the humans to feed them.

I've had a regular route for so many years now. Perhaps the crow that came and greeted me was trying to train me.  It will be interesting to see how crows try to make further contact with us, as they see us eat and walk about, while they try to join our murder.
  



     

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