Eating Crow

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where did that expression come from? It has negative connotations mostly, I suppose, because of the crow. It is early morning and the world is still quiet. The rustle of cars on the road hasn't begun outside my walls yet. I am sipping coffee, pondering whether I should start the laundry early. A group of crows is in the neighborhood. I can hear their cackles all the way down the street and in my yard. It is strange how sounds echo so clearly very late at night and in the early morning. Why is that? Is the air thinner at those times so that sounds echo more easily?

The American crow is a despised bird. Well, at least, I despise them. And a group of crows is not called a group, it's called a murder. How appropriate.

Crows are pesky birds. They drive out all the other songbirds in the summer. Now that it is autumn, and most of the songbirds have migrated or are in hiding, the crow finds advantage and comes boldly out of the woodwork. The crow is such a brassy, crass bird. There is a superiority in their eye when they stare down at you from their perches in the highest trees. Any seeds (or dog food) that I leave out for other critters are promptly stolen by these murders of crows. They descend arrogantly-- right in front of me-- in a black cloud of greasy feathers to gobble up the treats. I chase them away and they flap half-heartedly-- just enough to move out of stone-throwing distance. But even before I've turned my back, they are back again, eating another's seeds. My cats are terrified of the birds and refuse to chase them. Some help they are. They probably pay off the crows with cat food, begging the birds to allow them to stay here. There's probably a whole mafia ring of crows controlling my property underneath my nose.

For the past few years, Upstate cities have been plagued by murders of crows. You can't shoot them out of the city trees and off apartment balconies, so people have resorted to banging pots, blowing sirens, and aiming laser lights at them. This is in the hopes of disturbing their nesting places. It works, temporarily. The murders of crows flee the cities like a CEO on vacation, and head for the hills-- my hills. So now I must cope with them-- until next summer when the crows descend to feast upon the city again.

Some folks say crows are smart. Aesop's fable, The Crow and the Pitcher, is about a wise bird. In the story, a thirsty crow comes upon a pitcher with some water at the bottom. His beak cannot reach the water. The crow drops pebbles in the pitcher, one by one, to raise the water up to a level where he can drink. I think it's an odd story, because wouldn't the water trickle down around the pebbles back to the bottom? The stupid crow should have used a big rock, that will raise the water for ya.

Noah sent out a raven from the ark. I have wondered if this was a crow. Crows are sometimes called ravens. Noah's dove had returned, but the raven never did. Noah took that to mean that the raven remained alive, and there was dry land where the bird could live and eat. I know this is true because crows never die and they always go to the best feeding places first and never share.

When I was a kid, my mother constructed a scarecrow for her garden. Who ever came up with that idea first? I wonder if it ever worked. The crows completely ignored our scarecrow. They used him like a Charmin toilet roll, that murder of crows.

I suppose crows do serve a purpose. Somewhere, in the great universal scheme of delicate ecological balance, I know they must serve a purpose. Don't ask me what it is, though. I just might cast my vote to extinct those murders of crows.

They are quieter now. I can barely hear them far up the hill in the back. The cars outside are starting to rustle and overpower the ubiquitous cackling. I guess I should get the laundry going now.

3 remarks

In the universal scheme of things, crows must be useful, eh?

Hmmm. DEAD crows probably make good fertilizer! Can't think of anything else.

11:56 AM  
Mrs. Joseph said...

Interesting and informative blog. I never knew what a flock of crows was called -- murder, huh. Makes sense to me. I always think of them as the "trickster" they are referred to in Native American lore. Where I live, I often seen crows trying to act like hawks -- like a crow could be a hawk, really!

1:16 PM  
Mrs Mecomber said...

Herc, crows make a tasty pie, I've heard...

Hello, Mrs. Joseph, and thanks for visiting!

Ah, "trickster" refers to supernatural imps, or, as Western Europeans call them, "demons." I don't know if I would classify the crow THAT negatively... but crows sure can be little morons!

1:35 PM  

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