Monday, April 6, 2009

A Crow's Tale

I was reading Beth's latest entry about the wood peckers that visited her house and it got me thinking about birds. When I was oh, about 12 or 13, a neighbor came home with two baby crows. Now I'm not a fan of him doing it or how he did it. He climbed up a tree to the nest and took the babies out. He then raised them from chicks. Once they were old enough to fly, he would let them roam the neighborhood. It wasn't long though, that he stopped feeding them altogether. It's a wild bird so it should naturally know how to fend for itself right? That would be the wrong assumption. Merlin (the crow that either didn't die immediately or just decided he liked the neighborhood) began coming to our house. At first we didn't know he was tame. My dad stood out in the yard and told one of the neighbor boys that if this bird lands on me, I'll shit. Well the bird landed on him. Not long after, we learned of Merlin's life. He would come to our house as soon as the sun was up, sit on the gutters and caw. One of us would come out (usually still in our pj's) and sit on the deck with him while he ate his breakfast. (provided by us) He would hang out until we went in the house but he never went very far. I could go out just about any time of day and caw a few times, then nearby I'd hear the flapping of his wings. He'd usually come by the house around noon, sit on the basketball hoop and caw for us again to feed him. All of us would spend countless hours with that bird. I've had tons of pet birds over the years but I think I felt closest to Merlin. He had the ability to leave us if he really wanted to, he was free after all. And yet, he stayed. He came to see us, not just for the food but also for the companionship. Many a summer day was spent on the picnic table talking to a bird. Over the summer, the neighbors noticed little things go missing from their yards. Little shiny things. It wasn't known until years later that all those shiny things, were found in the gutters of his former home. Everything from car keys to loose change, Merlin had it. Eventually, Merlin wanted the friendship of another bird. He didn't choose that bird wisely. The bird that Merlin began following around the block was a red tailed hawk. We would see the hawk out looking for food and Merlin would be trailing him by a few feet. One day, Merlin disappeared. We don't know if the hawk finally got sick of this black bird following him and cawing at him, if Merlin tried to befriend the wrong human or if he just flew off. Ever since then, I have a great affection for crows. It's a good thing too, my house is surrounded by them. So the next time you curse a crow for eating the seeds off your sunflower, stealing something shiny you left out or just making a racket, remember crows can be really great friends if you give them a chance.


Adirondackcountrygal said...

Crows are very intelligent in the bird world. You were lucky to have met Merlin!

Beth said...

What a cool story! There's a book called In the Company of Crows and Ravens that I'll check out of the library one day. I heard about it on NPR, and it talks about how amazingly intelligent crows and ravens are. People actually used to keep them as pets, and they can be taught to speak. Crows are awesome, and it sounds like Merlin was one smart cookie.

Hugs, Beth