Crows

cc letters to editor

Dear Ms. Logan

I am grateful for your article about crows. I have been looking for this information for years! I thought perhaps one day I would contact UBC Zoology department (or something) to find out more! Knowledge Network played a short video called “Crows” but, such a disappointment. The film contained no information about crow behaviour, a mystery. Thank you for this!

  1. Often I noticed the phenomenon, driving south to north, of the cloud of crows each evening, 4:15 to 7 pm, and wondered, Where the heck are they going to? and, Why do they do that?
  2. Taking courses at Burnaby campus BCIT and seeing crows roost en masse in the deciduous trees that line the road leading to parking, after class the noise and dark made me realise it is not a bad neighbourhood for crow to congregate after hours, where only a few remaining cars may be bothered.
  3. The intelligence of the crow on Hicks Lane in Gibsons, who drops mussels in front of cars, to have a car run over and break their mussels open, in order to enjoy the contents. The crow that dropped a mussel in this effort broke my windshield. I was disappointed the ICBC adjustor did not care to hear the amazing story about “What happened to my windshield!” I really thought she would be interested.
  4. Observing elderly neighbours at war on Osler Street, the one shouting and shaking his fist at the other neighbour–who I observed, in his daily, early, inebriated state, fed the crows–until the stupid starlings hatched. I hate starlings, ugly and noisy, imported by entitled North Americans who purposefully brought over every European species referenced within Shakespeare’s works. The crows fed on the hatching starlings one-by-one, as the baby birds exited the neighbour’s bird house for first flight–breakfast instead.
  5. The morning ritual of a neighbour-woman at East 57th and Ross Street was to dump bread crumbs and food waste to feed and attract crows and pigeons and then she went inside, leaving fighting birds and the mess of discarded bits in the otherwise peaceful alley.
  6. A solo-crow found hours of noisy amusement in rolling, one-at-a-time, stones down the aluminium roof on Victoria Drive, and each stone hit the eaves trough with an apparently satisfying sound, and, with real luck, rattled all the way down the drain pipe. I told him I, for one, was tired of the noise, but he only paused, seeming to know I would be easily distracted to go on to some other activity, and he back to his.
  7. For a few weeks in early spring there are dozens of morning song birds in neighbourhoods around Ambleside until the hatchlings are available to eat. Polite crows caw loudly to attract friends and relations to share, and take turns eating the babies while group members cheer each other on. The crows move out of the way for the next noisiest crow, with the apparent glee of the audible crowd, and consternation of the tiny songbird parents. So sad to be in a war zone, first, the pleasant songbird mornings, then the noisy feasting mornings, until everyone is eaten, so that silent mornings follow–except for an occasional lone crow, cawing elsewhere, shouting for others to come enjoy because he has found another nest, and the cacophony moves over there. A group of crows is called “a murder of crows” for a reason.
  8. Canuck the Crow, some say, is guided by his nature to protect his patch, but I figure Canuck experiences pleasure in attacking people, including postal delivery. Canuck’s “owner” says Canuck is just doing what crows do and characterises working people as humourless. I think he gets enjoyment from this.

You wrote that Derek Matthews, founder of Vancouver Avian Research Centre, said, “They’re just crows, trying to live their lives and feed their families,” which includes the murder of countless songbirds in the perfect-habitat trees planted everywhere for soothing aesthetic effect–a neighbourhood that is Eden to the crows, who delight in picking off the vulnerable. Such is nature.

For the same reason I cannot understand the acceptance of the American eagle as the symbol for the United States. Walking with a toddler along the water’s edge in Bonnie Brook in Gibsons, pointing out behaviour of seven ducklings and a mother duck, swimming round and around a rock that protruded from the water. An eagle flew down, hooked a duckling and returned to the Douglas fir to crunch its meal. As a symbol for the United States it fits. Do they accept they are like that? Food for thought.

Me, I respect but dislike crows (oh, and eagles too). Wise, cunning, amusing, crows do not hesitate to eat garbage and the young, including those much smaller and vulnerable potentially-talented songsters. In the category of personality crows win, though I prefer the runners-up. Discouraging crows seems impossible but if it were socially unacceptable to encourage crows it would be a progressive policy.

 

Me

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