My Crows

It dawned on me that I haven’t mentioned my crows in the blog. This is a terrible oversight considering how much joy they bring me on a semi-regular basis.

Those who do not yet know me well might be surprised to learn how much I love crows.  Those who know me know that I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. I’ve had many different encounters over the years, but this move to Germany has seen a new level.

Our apartment is on the top floor of the building, and our balcony is on the courtyard side. I’m not exactly sure when it began, but a couple different crows started calling to me. At different times of the day, they would do fly-bys, looping around the skylights, cawing, and raising a general ruckus. They would occasionally land on the balcony when I was indoors, but the were very shy of humans and seemingly camera shy to a fault.

I, of course, was tickled to have crows around. I started seeing if I could train them, and them me. When one would fly and do its swooping hover, I’d step outside, rustle the bread bag loudly, place a piece of bread torn in two on the wide rail, knock loudly four times, and then step back inside. Some days, I would barely be back in before the crow swooped down for the bread. Other days, they would come calling while I was out gardening; they would watch from the next roof over as I stopped everything I was doing to go fetch a piece of bread.

Most times the crow would land, take one of the two pieces of bread, and then return a few minutes later for the second piece.  It got so that we would recreate this scene daily. All my family have witnessed our visitors. Even my neighbors have seen the crows come ask for a snack. (If you’re curious about their choice of food, we’ve lately settled on American white bread. While they are not terribly picky on food, they seem less keen on the leftover pretzels, bakery bread, or crackers. White bread seems to be just right.)

However, what became very entertaining, was as I was training the crow, and he training me, the local magpie was studying both of us, and could be observed well positioned shortly after the four knocks. The crow would come for his first piece, fly away, and not 30 seconds later the magpie would swoop in for the second piece.  The crow would then return and look all over for his second piece with a clear WTF? look on his little crow face. I’d feel compelled to put another piece out, just to keep him from thinking I was the one tricking him. He soon modified to stuff both pieces in his beak, much to the magpie’s chagrin.

Some days, the crow would not even wait for me to go inside, and instead grace me with a little quality face to face time. Very rarely the timing might be right that I could almost maybe get a picture. But most of the time the crow would fly as soon as I raised a camera or phone.

Lately, our training cycle has broken a little bit. I’m not sure if it was my irregular travel schedule — maybe I became a less reliable source of food.  Or maybe with late spring, there is plenty of other food to forage. Maybe now that the doors and windows are open all the time the domestic noises keep them away. Perhaps there’s a momma crow or baby crows that are demanding attention. I couldn’t say. But I keep an eye out, and when one of my little feathered friend comes calling I’m happy to feed him and knock.


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