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Monday, July 18, 2011

Baby crow! That haunting honking sound

By Jamie Lutton

I saw another baby crow on the ground. This one was only a block from the first one, so it could be the same crow (though I doubt it). This was behind QFC.

It was a quiet morning, two days after the last sighting. The parents were next to it, and it was beating its wings in the manner of all baby birds, as they were stuffing food into its mouth. This one was well onto the sidewalk.

They flew up into the tree, scolding me, when I walked up. This time, I immediately backed away, as it was not in any immediate danger. I did get a good look at it, though. It had the same blank expression on its face, and let me walk right up to it.

A young couple went by. I pointed at the baby on the sidewalk, so they would not accidentally kick it, and said "Look, a baby crow". They looked up, right away, and an apprehensive look went across their face. They had heard about Dangerous Mother and Father crows; I think they were expecting crows in with little machine guns to appear.  A woman my age came from the other direction; I said "Look, a baby crow" and she said, with some skepticism, "it looks pretty big for a baby"; but she walked around.

After a bit,. it wandered into the middle of Harvard; I held my breath. I car came, and was going to run over it. The crow did not move. So, I quickly walked into the middle of the street, knelt down, and put my hand up, pointing down with the other hand, so the driver could guess why I was doing this. I mouthed "BABY BIRD", and pointed. The car stopped about ten feet from us, and drove around us. As this happened, the baby crow hopped to the other side of the street, and disappeared into some bushes.

I walked by that spot in the late afternoon, and pretended to look in the bushes where the baby crow had run, since I saw  a crow on a tree, overhead. That parent immediately started to scold me loudly; so  I knew the baby was still alive (and maybe some siblings).

A few days later, I went by, and had some real luck.  I saw the baby in the same tree it was at the foot of. I knew it was the same  baby crow (or a sibling) as it did not fly; it hopped from branch to branch. And its caw was like more like a honking sound, like a duck or goose, than a caw. More high pitched. I watched it for about half an hour; it never tried to fly more than two feet or so.  Also, I knew it was a baby as it had a parent right next to it, scolding me, as I watched it's baby.

You might go out, today, and listen where there are heavy tree coverage and crows sighted, and see if you can hear this high pitched honking-crowing sound. There will probably be accompanying scolding from a parent, for you daring  to be so close.

My regular crows have been keeping me company.  I fed come crows some dog biscuits early yesterday morning, and one of them, half an hour later, dive bombed past me, flying under my right arm then up into a tree, with a biscuit in his beak.  He landed on a fence, then turned toward me for a moment or two; before flying away..

He was not hungry, obviously,  just saying hello, I suppose. This sort of thing happens a lot. It is the main reason I still feed the crows; they will fly in circles over my head, or dive bomb around me, saying hello, as I feed them.   They do all sorts of curious things, to get my attention, but try not get swatted  or hit by (other) people.

The crows are also landing on the railing outside my shop, and just walking back and forth, peering in. Nick also feeds them; so they do so to get our attention, to get treats. Sometimes we get as many as four or five, walking back and fourth, waiting expectantly outside.   I bought him his own sack of crow treats, yesterday., so he did not have to depend on me.  It is fun to have this thing to share with him; otherwise we have so little in common; as I am his boss, etc. I don't like being a boss; it means the people I am around for five to ten hours a day..  I have to keep my distance from.

It is like the first two chapters of C. S. Foresters Beat to Quarters, when Hornblower has to learn not to talk to his subordinates. This book has been held up as the great mirror of what it is like to be a boss. I happen to agree.

It is a very tiresome necessity, but it is better to be silent, and not too friendly with your employees. I have never succeeded in doing this, but I recognizance this as the ideal. It is best for both the employees, and the boss. 

I have had wonderful people work for me for the last 21 yeasrs; but very few visit, or call after they leave, as I was 'the boss'. But, that is the way of the world.  Several have shops of their own; and have done me proud. 

Last Thursday, July 14th, it was my 21st anniversary in business, if I start counting from the day I opened in on John Street. If I start counting from when I opened in the Broadway Market, I started back Feb. 17, 1987.

I celebrated quietly, with a little crow watching.  I thought a lot about all my employees and friends, long gone, and the friends who made it possible for me to open my shop.

My projects for the next year is to keep Twice Sold Tales running,  to the best of my ability, and to (finally) buy a replacement laptop, so I can get back to work on my book on books, that I have been working on for over a year. I may even put the crows in it.

Tolkien, when he came to write the sequel to the Hobbit that he publisher begged him for, he found that the Black Riders just 'rode into' the text, without his volition. They also  help hijack the book, along with the Ring,  and complications thereon, etc., so that it took Tolkien 12 years to write Lord of the Rings. He also he had friends who prompted him to rewrite the thing, till it was better, then still better; prompted him to write his best.  I picked up this information from the collected letters of Tolkien.

I have given myself only three years to finish my book on books, as I do not have a circle of friends to critique my work.  I think crows have flown into my book on books, though, and have roosted there. . For every time I start to write about books people should read, etc, crows come out of my fingers in this blog. .

I think my  black birds are a less ominous than Tolkiens black  riders, but I think they are here to stay. 

Another reason I don't write about books (yet) is that I have had books all my life, but crows only less than a year.  I am still stunned by birds.  An example: on my balcony, I have been putting outsunflower seeds, and red finches come, eat, and amuse my cat, who can't get at them. My cat stares at  the birds, who ignore her, and my cat chatters her teeth, and stares at them in frustration.  Usually,  I miss most of this drama.

Yesterday morning, though,  there was a tiny, incredibly obese finch, who fluttered its wings, and was being fed by an adult on my balcony, accompanied by another adult, as they hit my sunflower seed offering.. I realized that my sunflower seeds had fed up an obese finch baby, who was still being fed by Mama sunflower bits. This drama was taking place a scarce foot from my face, as I crouched on the floor and watched with my  very attentive cat. The finches were red, and brown, and yellow, and so very small. When they flew away, they darted at a speed my eyes could not follow; much faster than a crow could fly. They fell into the sky, off my balcony, and disappeared into the air.

I am a rank beginner, and nearly blind, too. What can I tell you about birds, that you can read about somewhere else, better, by experts?  I hope only to bring the miracle of the sighting of these birds bring to me, the miracle of the texts I have read might bring to you.

I will be careful, then, to be as fresh as I can, and as astounded, as I am about these books I know well, as I am about these birds I have just seen, so you want to look into these books, as I have stared into the sky after my crows, and at my balcony at the tiny finches.

So many people go about their lives, ignoring both birds and books, chasing after goals I don't understand very well. Both the birds and books are worthy of a second look, and, perhaps, astonishment. .
                          
       

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