The taming of the crow

Mike Bleech Outdoors Columnist

Monday was a morning like most. I was up by 4:00 a.m. When the newspaper arrived soon after, I made a cup of Bigelow Irish Breakfast Tea, then went onto the front porch to read by the light of a headlamp. Birds sang in the dark. The air was pleasantly mild.

Twilight came without notice. Right on time, a crow flew low over the front yard. Its head was cocked toward me. When I waved it made a single “caw”.

Crows, I believe, want to communicate with people.

For more than a year, whenever I get close to a crow I say, “Hellloo Crooow.”

It appears to calm them. Probably my imagination. A person’s mind tends to see things it wants to see.

I have been hoping and trying to tame the neighborhood crows using the best method I know for befriending animals. I feed them.

Not really tame, I am just trying to be good neighbors, and on good terms. To a great extent I have been able to at least come to some sort of understanding that this is an equal opportunity yard. All critters are welcome, unless they become too much of a nuisance. Then it’s war. My tolerance does have its limits.

This thing of a crow flying low over the yard has become standard procedure. It is upon me to go into the house and fetch bread, unless I already have a bag of stale bread on the porch. Then I tear the bread in large pieces and toss them in the yard.

Lately the crows have become more demanding. A few days ago two crows perched on a wire while I read the newspaper. I did not realize they were there until they started cawing at me. There was no bread on the porch so I have to go inside to get some. The crows were still on the wire waiting when I went back outside. They did not even stir when I walked toward them to tear apart the bread.

Soon after I sat down to read the newspaper again, one of the crows flew onto a wire that runs to my house, not more than 10 feet from me. The other crow flew onto the yard, but it would not hop close enough to get any of the bread.

Both crows few off, each cawing once. They landed in a nearby tree and waited.

“Ok crows,” I said. “I’ll go back inside so you can eat in peace,” and within 5 minutes that got the bread.

Crows do not get the bread every time, though. Blue jays will grab it while I sit there.

The remainder of the morning I mowed lawn and split apple wood for my bbq. It was a perfect morning for that.

Then in the afternoon friend Duke Fiscus and I drove back roads through the Allegheny National Forest watching for birds and other critters. We saw a doe with two fawns that were in no rush to get out of the road, a single fawn, three does and two bucks. One of those bucks was very nice already. We saw a rufus-sided towhee and the first scarlet tananger that I have seen in a few years.

Another purpose of the drive was looking for any trees that might have been blown down along the road by recent high wind. Usually the larger limbs left by serious fire wood cutters are just the right size for my smoker and fires in the back yard. We have a decorative fire ring that has become our main center of conversation. I like to mix oak with apple in the bbq, and we found plenty.

We finished the afternoon by cooking turkey sausages over a small hardwood fire. For whatever reason, probably humidity, getting the fire going was unusually difficult. Still, the sausages were excellent.

After returning home I had another cup of tea, Constant Comment this time. Maybe this was too late to br drinking tea that is strong on caffeine, but it has never kept me awake. It does, however, seem that I awake more refreshed.

The next morning at about 5:30 the crows were back. I wonder of they would prefer to have their bread toasted?

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