They go unnoticed overhead
Above the supermarket malls and cities
Suburban fields and meadows
Airborne gangs dressed in black feather jackets
Fearless wise guys with a raucous comment
For the goings on below.
Published: Pulsar Poetry (UK) 2011
One of the first things you notice after being retired is that you have time to notice things. Not as much as I thought there would be, but time enough.
I have begun to observe crows these last three years— such interesting birds. Some people are against them. They rob nests when they can find them, eat the young. I watch them walk along the fence in my back yard, scanning the evergreens for nests. Not nice, but then we all kill something. I remember a Buddhist monk’s remark: “We are all food, and the eaters of food.” I have digressed. I tend to do that.
I want to talk about crows. I’m quid-pro-crow. They fascinate me, so damn smart—and cautious. After the first three years of being fed a few, the older ones began to dare to stand their ground as close as ten or twelve feet away, watching my every move of course and poised for quick escape. A burst of flight. They know my car, a black Volvo wagon and follow for a block or two before I pull into my driveway, then they wait on the roof of my house to see if I’ve brought junk food leftovers. French fries are prized and also pasta.
One of them almost always hangs around, perched on a street light just across the street, keeping an eye on a crow feeder I made—an aluminum baking pan set in a wood frame on a pole some four feet off the ground. I should have made it higher by at least a foot. Dogs get into it sometimes.
Around Thanksgiving gulls begin to come on shore to plunder. Usually the hang around the beach at Puget Sound, about a quarter mile away. They are of course a larger bird, but fewer in number and interesting in themselves if to a lesser extent. The fly in patterns, grids at high altitude, neat as a checker board and usually just one. When spotting something it calls to its mates and soon a few others arrive, perusing what I’ve left. There’s almost always a crow keeping an eye on the feeder and it also calls to its mates. An air war begins—fighters and bombers. Crows harass, give chase, but no real threat. Sometimes a band of crows can drive a gull or two away, but not far away—giving chase if a gull has found something to eat something too big to swallow quickly. Sometimes a hasty gulls in flight will drop their find.