Getting played by the crows

by Jamie Lutton

I have to set limits on the crows, even though I have fed them only three times.

I told myself that I would only feed them several blocks from work, and only for about 10 minutes, so that they would not associate my business with food.

But they know my face.

On the way back from the bank this morning, a black shadow few in front of my face, and perched on the post office. I said, staring up, happily "HI there!". Crow looked down at me, turning his head back and forth, then fluffed his feathers at me.

This happened twice this morning, coming and going to the bank. The crows are trying to play me; as several other crows, I noticed, were watching the game to see if he could get me to give out treats again.

I noticed that the crows seemed to be happier if I tossed the dog biscuits than if I put a pile on the ground. When I do that, they seems to grumble, as they line up, as if at a cafeteria, and each fly down and take one. None of them seem to think of grabbing one in a claw, yet; they try to carry the dog biscuits in their beak to eat later or swallow whole.

Sometimes a slightly larger crow will try to grab two; this is a comedy, as they are slightly too large for this so be accomplished easily. He will fly down with one already in his beak; try to grab a second one, the first will fall out, the new one will fall out, he will hop. Then stare at both of them. Then pick the new one up, then a car will come by, and he will have abandon both, then fly back, and try to pick them both up - if another couple of crows have not grabbed both the biscuits.

Once in a while, flying slowly, a crow will manage to get two biscuits at once, but the crows look like they are having to balance them, like a waiter with a full tray.

This morning, as usual, I finished up with the biscuits a few blocks from my shop, and showed the crows my empty hands, saying "all gone" to them, looking up. But several were determined to try to guilt me into producing a few more.

I stuck my head out of the shop a few minutes ago - it is a beautiful October day - and I can see them, in the trees and one on the top of a building - hoping that I will relent.

I wonder, in centuries in the future, if we will take better care of the crows, and they will not be feral any more than we no longer have feral dogs and cats wandering our streets in the US. Maybe have birth control for the crows, and the pigeons, so they do not dig in our trash, and pester people for scraps. Since the crows are so smart, they are all worth watching and cherishing, the way we cherish cats and dogs now, instead of kicking them, and feeding them scraps, and drowning their puppies and kittens instead of getting them fixed and getting them proper homes.

But then, I do not think the crows suffer much. And they are wild birds, after all. They seem tame as they are associated with the trash of our cities, and live off of it, and are thus our responsibility. I wish that more humans thought they were beautiful.

If they were rare; I think we would. If you saw only a few crows in your lifetime, you would freeze, and stare, from the beauty of their flight (if not their song).

I do not see dead crows too often. Do they eat their dead? We used to eat our dead; humans have been cannibals. I do know that I can't be the first human they have tried to play into giving more treats.

The "fly in front of the face" repeatedly cute routine is too practiced. I have to draw limits, though Only a few treats, and only in the early morning, and only far from my shop; or I will end up like that school bus driver who fed crows, who ended up having a black murder of crows following her on her route.

She almost lost her job over that.

Crows are worth watching and feeding, though. As my birder brother said thoughtfully "they are a native bird" which, in this mind, made them worthy of a bit of food. And they are so smart; almost as smart as us. An alien species among us; we don't have to go to the stars to meet.