This is a fairly decent picture of the crow who visited me one nice spring day. Almost the instant I took the picture he fled the scene, an unfriendly act, but he comes back almost daily. His visit reminded me of an event of many years ago.
The Past Event
Many years ago I was helping a friend tend to her rather large well-kept backyard. It sloped down from her home to a small stream running along the far end of her property. Her yard joined a neighbor’s unkempt overgrown yard. It was mostly covered by tall marsh grass. A fence separated the yards. Both shared the stream as a back end property line.
While raking some leaves, I heard some screeches. They were coming from the marsh grass just across the fence dividing the yards. The tall marsh grass was shaking wildly. Then it all stopped only to start again moments later. This cycle continued until my curiosity got the better of me.
I was a little scared as I climbed over fence and into the marsh grass, not knowing what was in there. I struggled through the tall grass to get closer to what I now thought might be a small animal struggling to get through the grass.
I was really close when I heard more screeching and cawing, this time from the trees above me. I looked up to see a few crows. They were cawing and flapping their wings, seemingly disturbed by what I was doing.
I parted the grass and looked down into the thicket. I saw a crow. It was struggling to flap its wings and fly away. The grass was so thick and strong it couldn’t fly and it couldn’t move through the grass to a clearing where it could take off. It was obviously trapped. When it saw me it struggled even more to escape both the grass and me.
I reached down slowly, trying not to frighten it more. Despite all its struggles I was finally able to close its wings against its body and lift it out of its trap. I could feel its heart pounding rapidly as it struggled now to get free from me. It screeched even louder than before and was joined by the crows in the trees. It tried to peck my hands, almost breaking its neck to do so. As gently and safely as I could, I put it on top of a nearby fence post.
I stepped back and watched as it sat there, breathing heavily, beak open, soundless, looking at me, looking up into the trees, and once in a while stretching its wings. The birds above had grown silent as they watched. The crow’s breathing slowed and it sat taller and straighter. It flapped its wings once more, rested just a little, and then gracefully, but rapidly, flew from the post and up into the trees with the other crows. A few caws later they all flew out of sight.
I went back to the yardwork, happy that I had helped the crow.
That was when I heard more cawing and flapping wings from above. I looked into the trees to see formations of crows landing one at a time on the long almost level tree limbs. There must have been a hundred of them, maybe more. Every place they could perch, they perched. The trees were tall and had many horizontal limbs. Those tree limbs were covered with crows. I had never seen so many crows at one time. Once they landed they began to caw until the sound was loud and constant.
I waved at them. Instantly, there was silence. Then they cawed almost as one voice once again. I waved again, they cawed again, and then took off one at time from each limb and flew out of sight. Their departure rivaled Air Force formation flying. It was breathtaking to watch.
What can we learn from the crows? First, they understand kindness. Maybe they also understand a lot more than we give them credit for. Second, they know how to say, “Thank you.” They do it better than we sometimes do.
That leads to another question. What about other ‘wild’ animals? How much do they understand?
It makes one rethink what one does to animals and pests. Pests and some animals must be destroyed, but I think we should try to do it humanely, swiftly, instantaneously if we can.
On a personal level, I have stopped using the sticky mouse traps. I recognize the need to rid my house of mice, but I can do it quickly with a snap trap whereas a sticky trap is torture. Imagine yourself caught in one of them.