Friday, November 14, 2008
The indomitable crow. Well, there's more than one; there are always more than one. And actually, they never did leave, they just went under the radar all summer.
The bluebird is supposedly the New York State bird, but I have never seen a bluebird in my life. I have, however, seen scads and scads of crows. During the summer, they lay (relatively) low, when feisty songbirds keep them at bay. The hollow echo of the crow's caw is heard in the morning sunrise. They scout the grassy yards for tasty bugs while the dew is still fresh. And all summer long they condescndingly stare down on our picnics from their treetops. But summer is over. The songbirds are gone, the leaves have fallen, and the crow finds his chance to once again dominate the landscape. And he brings hundreds of his buddies when he does.
I went to WalMart very early this morning, before sunrise. There are usually few other shoppers at 5am (and I can shop for UGG Boots without pushy customers around). I do have to fight through the stockboys and their mounds of boxes, but I can go at my own leisurely pace, and it's rather pleasant. I finished my shopping at a little after 6 (just before sunrise) and pushed my cart through the doors. I was assaulted with the sounds of a hundred cackles. In the dimly lit parking lot, there were dozens upon dozens of crows. It was a little scary. Some were perched on the shopping cart racks, but most of them were hopping on the asphalt of the parking lot.
I turned to a Walmart attendant who had just walked out the doors and asked, "Do these crows come every morning?"
"Yes, and I hate it!" he groaned.
I marveled. I don't think I'd ever seen so many crows all in one place, and everyone of them cackled, or clicked at me. I have never heard a crow click before. It's a sharp ticking noise. I was startled to hear it 10 feet from me, where i was unloading groceries. I turned and it was a crow, watching me carefully.
Most of them were huddled away from the lights, in the dark corners of the parking lot, away from the reach of my light-hungry camera. Where I could photograph two or three dozen by the lights, a healthy two or three dozen more clustered in the shadows.
I started up my car and the crows bustled a bit, but none flew away. I rolled down the window and tried to snap photos. It was really too dark to get a good photo. I soothingly talked to the crows, getting closer. They were amazingly bold. I drove up to about 3 feet in front of one, and it waited before hopping away. I got a little mischievous and revved up the engine. The crows rustled, but didn't move much. So I started driving, slowly at first and then faster. Now they were moving! Several flapped around the lot, but they really, really wanted to stay put on the asphalt. Maybe it was warm?
So thus went my early morning Walmart shopping experience. Like something out of "The Birds." Yeesh.