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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Friendly crow attention

By Jamie Lutton

I was late to work today, but I always, always walk slowly up the street, looking up, to see if I can spot any crows. They usually see me first, but nothing today. It was  chill, and looked and felt like rain was coming. As I walked to Starbucks for a Tuesday New York Times (has the Science section in it) and then to my coffee at TNT Espresso a block south,  (their coffee is better and cheaper, sorry) walking on Broadway, a heard a crow scold me.

I looked up and saw two crows on the top of the building behind me and one on a wire. One of them scolded me again. I threw out a treat (I usually don't do this on Broadway, but the street was deserted) but the crow just scolded me again. After I got my coffee, I was preparing to walk south down Broadway, as I was really late for work, and it quicker to do that than to walk down Harvard.

A crow came from behind  me and flew on top of and scuffed my head, then flew to the top of the building beside me. I could hear the flutter of his wings, for a split second. . I looked up, made eye contact, and said 'pretty bird'. He looked at me for a long moment, then disappeared, walking back further on the roof. I thought I knew what he wanted; that he wanted me to walk behind the building, on Harvard.

Soon as I turned the corner to walk west to Harvard, about seven crows appeared in the trees across the street by the Broadway Market complex. I threw down one treat, and four pounced on it, scuffling. I then tossed out enough for all of them. They all few down and grabbed treats; some took the time and assembled two in their beaks before flying off.  I stood for a long moment, watching them, even though I was a bit late.

The moment out of time, with the crows, was worth it.

I thought that would be the end of my close encounters with crows today, but when I came to work, I looked up, as  I was unlocking the door of the shop. I saw a crow flying over to me, and roosting in a tree. I threw out a treat on the sidewalk. I then saw two more fly over and land in on a roof across the street. The crow was very high up in the tree. They all looked at the treat on the sidewalk, but did not come down. I arranged several treats on the railing of my ramp, all in a row.

Then one crow flew down and began to peck at the treat on the sidewalk. In a slow heartbeat, another one from the roof  landed on the railing, just a few feet from my left hand, below me a bit.   This had not happened before. None had gotten this close to me while I was still outside. I held very still. The crow looked at me, and walked up the railing, to just by my hand, and took one treat, then another. He was six inches from my left hand.

He was the most beautiful crow I had ever seen. Plump, shiny, black crow, with ease all over his body in the way he moved. Confident, happy crow. He was so confident with me that he took his time loading up and assembling two treats in his beak. to carry off.

He knew I meant no harm, and that I was his friend, or at least an easy touch that would not hurt him.

This  was great moment. No crow had gotten this close to me before. I wanted to stop people in the streets and tell them; I repressed that, and wrote this, instead.

I started out feeding and writing about crows, so I could  send Daddy the blogs last fall, when he was dying. At the end, I just told him stories.

Now, they raise my eyes, and my heart, and I scan the skies all the time, whenever I am outside, to catch a glimpse of one, going about it's business.  I stand on Broadway, still, looking up, scanning the skies, trying to hear a crow cry, whenever I am out on store business.

Theses days, they are oftentimes flying high, straight, on mysterious errands, or carrying a bit of branch or grass to build a nest.   But when we make eye contact, or a couple of them spot me,  we have a bit of fun; with me feeding them dog treats, and them showing off flying tricks for me while they gather them up.  It is a moment out of time, when I can hang with the crows and watch them arrive, roost, and fly down.

It is the unexpected contact I like best. When that crow brushed my head this morning (not the first time this has happened), then flew to the top of that building, there was an attempt to communicate there; different from the usual  begging. He was trying to say 'go around the other way', but in a trickster crow fashion.  Or the crow walking toward my left hand today, knowing that I was just a happy anomaly in their life, a treat-thrower  human.

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