They’re loud – right outside my office window and my blinds are closed but I know what’s up. I recognize the vocals – the begging caw of a young crow, followed by a strangled gawww as the parent stuffs some morsel down its gullet. Very familiar. When I was a teenage keeper in a small zoo years ago, I looked after many young animals, including two baby crows. I won’t go on about all other the infant creatures I bottle fed – fox kits, raccoons, fawns, bear cubs by the dozen, even a moose – the zoo was the local wildlife rescue center. There was also an adolescent Indian Elephant (naturally not a rescue). Anyway, I figure I’ve been bitten or clawed by half the natural world in my time. I’ve certainly shovelled the poop of a lot of it. Back then, I could tell, sight unseen, the leavings of an African Lion from a Mangabey once I got a whiff, rather like a wine connoisseur can identify fine wines. On second thought, forget that comparison. We called the crows Hecate and Poe, incidentally.
Corvids: Black-billed Magpie (BC Interior), Jackdaws (Portugal), Clark’s Nutcracker (Oregon), Mexican Jay (Arizona), Steller’s Jay (BC Coast)
Ravens – Display Flight
Crows are smart, very smart. Like other corvids – the ravens, jays, magpies and nutcrackers. – they solve puzzles amazingly well. They also remember through the generations apparently, with the great grandchildren of a long-deceased crow reacting negatively to a mask worn by a researcher way back when the original crow was captured. That’s what they say anyway. The Caledonia Crow is a reputed to be an especially adept tool-user.
Tide out, table set
Anyway, I’m careful around these guys. I won’t want to offend. To this day, I always greet any crow I pass – a respectful ‘doff of the hat’ kind of thing – and sometimes I get a reply. Better to be safe than sorry, I say. Besides, I like crows. It was fun to watch them last weekend as they quietly and unobtrusively worked the ‘scraps’ at Greek Fest while crowds of humans concentrated on souvlaki, bouzouki music and the omnipresent yellow jackets. I think they did very well, as they usually do.