The Crow Report : Part 7 – On A Black Wing & A Whistled Prayer

You can’t imagine the shame I felt when I realized I’d not posted a Crow Report since December of 2019! I knew that needed to be fixed as quickly as possible. You can read my last report HERE. The Crow Report : Part 6.

As with so many other things, I’m going to blame my lack of a report on the arrival of Covid-19 in the months that fell on the heels of my last writing. I’m also going to blame (happily) Covid-19 for the progress that’s been made with my lovely black beauties!

Between mid-March and early September of 2020, I had the joy of working from home for the first time in my life! Oh, what a GLORIOUS summer it was despite the mayhem of masks and hand-sanitizer and half expecting the arrival of the first zombies and not being able to go out to eat for months or travel much of anywhere. After about six weeks of taking various work-related classes, bumbling my blind way through such things as learning something about Excel spread sheets, technical writing, and beginner HTML to name a few, I found a niche project to work on, Audio/Visual Transcription. It’s not for everyone, but I love it – more or less – and through it have learned more about home economics, modern architecture, 4-H, philosophy, Alex Haley, religious iconography, homosexuality in Ancient Greece and more, than I ever would have otherwise, or maybe ever wanted to. It’s been fascinating either way.

The work requires sitting at the computer listening to lectures and talks on the above-mentioned topics and documenting what’s being said by whom and when, sometimes with a few visual cues as to what’s going on should the audio be accompanied by video. Sitting inside as April turned into May and June and with the arrival of summer heat, simply was not going to happen. I took to my laptop as soon as I could and as often as I could outside to the back deck. Under the umbrella with my cup of morning coffee & breakfast, remaining out there throughout the afternoon where the coffee was replaced by iced tea or a soda and lunch was served, I’d work and listen and watch for the crows and the ravens all at the same time.

Once a day, usually around 9-10 in the morning, I’d toss the peanuts into the side lawn, whistle, and wait. It never took long for the crows to arrive. I didn’t go inside. They’d have to get used to the fact I was going to be there, even if out of sight around the back of the house. It took time, but they got used to the idea of it though they’d still fly to the safety of the trees should I dare rise and peek around the corner of the house. Silly birds.

They and the ravens seem to have gotten their territories and living arrangements worked out this past year. I never saw or heard any more aerial warfare as I had the previous summer. The ravens are still heard far more than they are seen, but one or two (I’ve spotted as many as six at once) do occasionally fly over the house casual as you please.

By summer’s end, the crows had gotten into the habit of sending their scout ahead at around eight or nine in the morning to caw for breakfast from the maple tree just outside my front door or the pine tree within sight of the back porch where I would sit should the day be warm enough by then to enjoy. Despite that, still, they retreated high into the treetops when I appear.

Fall arrived. The same pattern continued. I returned to work on-site three days a week and worried that my birdies would miss me and stop coming every morning to call me out to breakfast. There’d be no lady with disheveled hair in her bathrobe and slippers to whistle in greeting and wish them a, “Good morning, birdies!” I feared they’d give up and abandon me.

But, when I was home on Thursdays and Fridays, Scout would continue to show up, earlier or later, let me know he (or she) was there with a, “Caw, caw, caw” and sit in the tree until I poked my head out, whistled, wished her a, “Good morning, birdie,” and announced breakfast was coming up and that I’d be right back. Scout would wait. Scout would watch me toss out the treats for the day. Scout would call to its Murder partners and watch me go back inside. Sometimes mere minutes would pass before the other five would arrive. Sometimes, Scout would fly off and return hours later with the rest, but they did always come back.

When winter comes, they roost somewhere else for the night. I suspect in Ithaca with their other family members and friends, and there is a very narrow window of time that they are around. Days would go by without a note or sighting. I hated not seeing or hearing them, not knowing when they’d be back or for how long. Would they even stop to visit me? They don’t know the days of the week after all. Monday means as much to them as Friday or Saturday. And, of course, by now I could no longer work outside so they could spot me easily and my car would remain hidden in the garage. How would they know I was home, waiting and hoping?

On December 29th, which just happened to be my 55th birthday (and the day of the full moon) and I was home on Winter Break from work, they came. They not only caw-caw-cawed for my attention, they ALL waited in the tree together as I threw out the peanuts and the leftover chicken bones and whatever else I’d been saving up for them. And, as if that were not enough – they let me watch them from inside the kitchen, behind the closed doors and windows and… I was able to video them happily walking and flying and nibbling away on my offerings. NEVER have I been able to do that before. The mere sight of my camera aimed in their direction at this close proximity (ten – fifteen feet) would send them into a cacophony of fright and flight. Not that day. It was, after all, my birthday and I like to believe they knew that and that this was their birthday present to me. Later, I’d take my footage, edit it down to under 15 minutes, and share it on my YouTube channel. You can find it here. A Birthday Murder. It may be a bit long for some, but crow lovers will be amused.

Each day, each fleeting encounter since then seems to finally be paying off. This very morning, in fact, I heard Scout’s caw and replied. He was about halfway up the Maple tree. I went onto the front porch and looked up, “Good morning, birdie,” I said. He not only remained where he was but after I did a much gentler version of my calling whistle, he flew down closer! Shock and awe! Not wanting to press my luck, I went back in to fetch the vittles, keeping to the idea of offering them in the front yard instead of the usual side yard location.

Less than an hour later… there they were. Skittish about the new spot, but there all the same, offering me the continued hope on a black wing and a whistled prayer that one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, my wish will come true and they’ll know me and trust me as much as I want them to. I even managed to get a picture through the window.

The Crow Report : Part 6 – It’s A Conspiracy

It’s been ages since I posted a crow report! There have been some changes.

For those who haven’t been reading along for the past few years – I’ve been doing my best to lure in and befriend the local murder of crows. After a couple years of this, they were FINALLY getting the message that I am a friend not a foe. I could go outside, whistle for them, and within ten-fifteen minutes they’d arrive and start cawing from the treetops to let me know. Once they arrived, I’d toss them several large handfuls of shelled peanuts then retreat inside while they enjoyed the snack. The goal is to not have to go back inside, but for them to trust me enough to let me stand there and watch.

Then, tragedy struck. A year ago this past summer, a dead bird appeared nearby in the yard of the empty house next door. READ “When Death Comes Cawing” HERE. After that I stopped seeing them; I didn’t even hear them! POOF!

In January of this year, what appeared to be an EPIC RETURN happened. READ “The Return” HERE.

This past summer something else began to ruffle their ebony feathers, ravens! Ravens have been rare around these parts for decades, but are slowly making a comeback. Breeding pairs are being spotted more and more frequently. I’d occasionally hear their distinct throaty croaking sounds in the distance to the northwest, but would never see them. A couple friends in nearby towns said they’d seen some. Here’s an article from five years ago about our local raven population. I’m sure it’s grown since then.


 I had never seen a raven in the wild until this year and when I did, they were clearly in a sky battle with my beloved crows. Honestly, I wasn’t sure who to cheer for. I love my crows, but ravens, y’all! RAVENS!!! I stood fascinated, staring at the sky and their fancy swooping and dive-bombing each other and all that raucous cawing going on. The crows nested in the southwest and the ravens didn’t seem too keen on that. All summer I’ve done my best to keep whistling and putting out treats for the crows all while secretly hoping a couple of ravens would also show up. I’m so torn! The interaction has been slow at best. I think they were just too darn busy finding a new roost to nest in away from the ravens, but not too far away from familiar food sources, to bother with the scant peanuts I toss out.

This past week, however, more changes, and yesterday was epic! I gathered my offerings – the usual peanuts with a handful of leftover chicken wings from dinner the night before. The usual routine involves me stepping out on to the kitchen porch, whistling a few times, and waiting for a caw in reply, whistling again and going back inside. I won’t put any peanuts out until I actually see and know the crows are there – otherwise the darn blue jays take them all. It takes a while for the crows to come, but when they do they’ll sit in the Maple tree in the front yard and caw to let me know they’ve arrived.

Yesterday, I opened the kitchen door, whistled, and before I could even turn around, four crows came swooping in and perched in the tree on the other side of the yard, watching and waiting. Also, when I came out with their treats, they remained in the tree instead of flying away. I whistle while I do this so they associate the food with that sound. This morning – same thing. I’m calling that progress!

I’m super excited about these developments. Maybe this summer will finally see me able to remain outside and watch them eat and get some good pictures, too! As for the ravens – their still around, though I haven’t seen or heard them lately. For now, I’ll keep my focus on my crow buddies and smile knowing that maybe they really still do kinda like me.

Part 2 – The Murder! The Newest Barnesville Chronicle Cover Release!

It feels like forever since I’ve had the joy of releasing a new title, though it’s only been a year. Maybe because this one has been finished for such a long time, but I had to hold off on getting it out there due to other things going on. Despite those plans not working out as I’d hope and prayed, it put the project back at the top of my to-do list. Thankfully, all the waiting and work is almost over.

Part two of The Witch’s Backbone will be out and about in the world in 6-8 weeks barring any more unforeseen delays. I’ve chose my grandmother’s March birthday for it – though I’m going to have to guess the majority of you have no idea when that is.

And so, without any further delay – I’d like to present you with the official cover release for the fourth title in the Barnesville Chronicle series The Witch’s Backbone, Part 2 – The Murder.


 If the curse is real, how do they stop it from killing them all?

“One, two, three, four and five, not much longer to be alive.”

The free-wheeling days of the summer of 1980 are over. September has inched into October and chilly autumn winds blow through the village of Meyer’s Knob. Four friends sit atop the highest hill they know of. What should be a joyful occasion is one of mourning and sadness, instead. If only they’d known the curse was true, they’d not be standing here sending their friend postmortem birthday wishes.

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”

The curse and the witch that goes with it are both real, and by the end of this particular day, they are going to come to realize their nightmare is nowhere near over. While the friends struggle to overcome their grief, they search for ways to unbind themselves from the horror that seems inescapable. They call on their local priest and they delve deeper into the world of witchcraft  – desperate and terrified.

“Ask about the murder.”

Cryptic whispers and messages from beyond the grave seem to be pointing them in a certain direction, but they don’t understand what the dead are asking them to do. Only one man knows the answer, the key that will end it once and for all, but his fear keeps him from revealing the secret to anyone, let alone a group of budding teenagers. He tried once and failed. Will the horrible knowledge passed down to him through his ancestors really work? Or is there truly only one way to end the witch’s curse, to let it play out and watch one child after another die?

If you haven’t read Part 1 – The Curse yet, you’ll want to do that before diving into this one to get up to speed on the mess the kids of Meyer’s Knob have gotten themselves into. Here’s a handy link to help you do just that.

The Witch’s Backbone Part 1 : The Curse –





The Crow Report – The Return

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know my last Crow Report was not a happy one. One of the local murder was found dead in the neighbor’s yards. (Details Here: When Death Comes Cawing). I was devastated by the death and even more so when the rest of the birds did not come back for weeks, then months.

I am happy to report that on New Year’s Eve, three of the five returned! The tears flowed again but this time they were filled of utter joy instead of heartbreak! They didn’t stay long, but there they were, sitting in the pine tree and strutting around in the yard. They’ve come and gone over the past few weeks, each time making a bit more noise and staying a little longer to enjoy the peanuts and cat food.

After a big storm that hit Saturday night and dumped a foot of snow in the area, tossing their food into the yard was rather pointless. The offerings immediately vanished. I decided to try something new. I had two wide planks of wood about a foot wide and 3-4 feet long just sitting around doing nothing by the kitchen porch. Using those, I made a small platform by laying them diagonally between the two railings. Not the biggest landing spot, but better than having to waddle and dig around in the snow, I figured.

It only took a few minutes for the Blue Jays to make good use to it, but Blue Jays are not Crows and without a doubt, I could probably stand out there and the Jays wouldn’t care in the least. The Crows – well, they aren’t so sure about the whole thing. None of them took advantage of the new configuration Sunday. Monday was a different story.

I saved a few pieces of raw bacon from our Sunday morning breakfast along with some boiled Cornish Game Hen giblets – necks, livers, gizzards, etc. That along with the normal peanuts and kibble made for quite the spread. Of course, the Jays came first, nabbing all the peanuts in no time. A Starling showed interest in the kibble, but didn’t linger. Then – quiet. Until about 3:30 when I heard the caw-caw-caw. I dared to peek out.

There they were, SEVEN of them, in the trees, eyeballing the platform.  One flew down to a nearby stump, tipping his head this way and that, taking in the situation. He fluttered over a bit closer on the ground, pushing snow with his tummy then flew up, did a quick survey and headed back to the tree post haste. Others flew in, doing the same. None of them seemed too keen on landing just yet. But, it was clear they knew there was food up there. Finally, one of them took the dare and landed, grabbed something and was gone just as fast.

There was a lot of crow debating after that. More fluttered in, but none landed. This all took place over the span of about half an hour. They all flew off shortly after. It was just starting to get dark so I’m sure they were headed for their roost for the night.

As I won’t be home today, I won’t be able to spy on them when they come by at the usual times. I will be able to see if anything is gone when I get back, though. And you better believe I’ll be checking the platform for tell-tale Crow footprints in the snow.

When Death Comes Cawing

As anyone who follows me knows, there’s a sacred place in my heart for crows.

For the past three-plus years I have fed and even earned a small level of trust from a small murder. What started as two (dubbed Elvira and Edgar) grew to three (Sunny) with an occasional forth (Unnamed). This year, that number went up to six when two fledglings joined the group. They were quickly dubbed Ruckus and Rowdy because they were so darn noisy as they followed their parents around begging for food.

Sadly, today it went down to five. I found one of my beautiful friends dead in the neighbor’s yard. No marks of any kind on it. Not a feather out of place. Not a drop of blood. I wonder if maybe it simply died of old age. His/Her family flew over and circled several times, clearly very upset and cawing loudly.

I knew I couldn’t just leave my dearly departed where it was to be ripped apart by some other creature or worse, have the neighbor get hold of it and just chuck it heartlessly into the nearby brush pile. (The house in question is actually vacant. A fire gutted it about five years ago and it has been in the process of being rebuilt ever since. However, there is a person who mows the lawn and construction workers do show up from time to time to work on the place.) I could all too clearly see one of these people not respecting ‘my’ bird and that was just unacceptable.


One of ‘my’ crows in their favorite pine tree.

With a heavy heart, I got the shovel from the garage and dug a hole under the pine tree where one of their numbers would often perch to call me out for peanuts and crow chow (aka high quality cat food). From this tree, too, they would wait and watch until the coast was clear before flying down to eat.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t know which of ‘my’ birds I buried this afternoon. I was sorely tempted to pluck a feather from its wing as a bit of memento mori, but I simply couldn’t do it. Its life had already been taken. Taking even more felt wrong.

As I placed it in the ground, tears welling up, I looked into its eyes and told it how beautiful it was and how much joy it had brought me. I thanked it for trusting me even if only a little bit and how dearly it would be missed.

These birds are not my pets. They are wild and free to come and go as they please, but that doesn’t lessen the affection I’ve grown to have for them nor the sadness I feel at losing even a single one.

Good bye, dear winged friend.

To Learn More About Crow Funerals:

How Raven Stole The Sun – A Retelling

Crows & Ravens

In the beginning the world was in total darkness.

Raven, a beautiful white bird that lived high on a remote mountain top and who had existed in this darkness from the beginning, grew very tired of walking and flying around running into things all the time.

One day, Raven found his way to the home of an old Medicine Man named Grey Hawk who lived alone with his daughter. Grey Hawk was not a very friendly man. He hated people and permitted no visitors. However, his daughter was very pretty and Raven, feeling sorry for her solitude, decided to introduce himself.

They quickly became the best of friends for Raven could talk as well as any person and the daughter was grateful to have his company. During one of their chats, Raven learned that the girl’s father had a great treasure. Hidden somewhere in the house, the greedy old man had a tiny box concealed within many other boxes that held the light of all the universe within.


Immediately, Raven vowed he would steal this box and the light within.

Raven thought long and hard on how he would steal the box. He watched Gray Hawk day in and day out, learning his habits, where he went, and for how long. Finally, when he was certain he’d not be caught, he flew into Gray Hawk’s house. He looked and looked and found a box tucked under a pile of Buffalo hides. Being very clever, Raven opened one box after another, each one smaller than the last.

The smallest box sparkled from the inside out, unable to entirely hold all the light within. Raven knew then he’d found the one.  With it tucked in his beak, Raven flew as high into the sky as he could from the home, tiny sparks of light streaming from the box as he went, until he reached the secret mountain where he lived.

Looking back, Raven noticed that the pieces of light he’d spilled had risen high into the once totally black sky. Raven named them Stars. This was the first light.

Raven rested for the night and when he woke he opened the box. Inside he found a glowing ball of fire. It was from this Raven believed the sparks now called Stars had come. Raven grasped the ball in his beak and once more flew up as high as he could go to place the ball in the sky among the Stars. Because it was so much bigger, brighter, and heavier than the sparks that had fallen from it, Raven wasn’t able to get it as far. This he named the Sun.

By the time Raven returned home, the day had passed and the Sun had sunk below the horizon and the world was dark again save for the Stars. Raven returned to the box and found a second ball. This one was much smaller and not as bright. He took the ball into his beak and flew as high as he could. He placed it in the opposite side of the sky from the Sun so that it could be seen at night with the Stars. This he named the Moon.


Satisfied, Raven went home and rested.

The next day when the Sun rose, Raven peaked into the box one more time. It still wasn’t empty. Inside was a stick that had been set on fire by the great heat of the Sun. Beside it, was a bulging water skin.

Remembering Grey Hawk’s daughter and how hard she worked to draw water up from the well, Raven took the water skin and flew out from his mountain. As he went, water from the skin fell to the earth, filling long gorges, deep basins, and meandering shallows. Rivers, oceans, and streams were created. All the People and animals that had once wandered in darkness and dug for water were grateful to Crow for all he’d done. Greedy Grey Hawk was not.

Grey Hawk was furious and had a plan of his own to get rid of thieving Raven once and for all. He couldn’t return the Stars, Moon, Sun, or Waters to the box, but he hoped he’d still be able to take Fire back. As Raven flew overhead to return to his mountain, Grey Hawk secretly followed him on foot. It was a long, hard journey for the Medicine Man, but he still had one more trick up his sleeve.

When night fell and Grey Hawk knew Raven would be sleeping, the Medicine Man climbed the great mountain where the bird lived. Near sunrise, he found Raven in a huge nest at the very top. In the middle of the nest sat the box from which glowed the light and heat of Fire. Raven lay with his white wings wrapped protectively around it.

Grey Hawk inched his way in, closer and closer, and was just about to snatch the glowing twig when the Sun rose full and bright. Raven opened his eyes and immediately saw the old man and knew what he was after. The bird snatched the burning stick from the box and took to the sky as fast as he could. It was then that Grey Hawk revealed his final secret. He transformed into an actual Hawk and flew after Raven as fast as his great wings would take him.


Raven was shocked! Grey Hawk was much bigger than him, but not as agile. Raven rose and fell, darting left and right, doing all in his power to out maneuver his foe. As he flew, smoke from the twig blew back, coating his once white wings until they were completely black. Raven didn’t care.

Hawk chased him still, snapping at the fiery twig and Raven every chance he got. Raven darted down between some rocks and accidentally dropped the twig. Fire fell even faster than Hawk or Raven could fly to catch it. It struck a pile of rocks, darkening them instantly then was snuffed out, seemingly lost forever.

The two birds screamed, squawked, and cawed at each other in rage! On seeing how the once beautiful white Raven was now as black as the sky had once been before stealing the treasure, Hawk laughed. “Now you are a black and ugly thing of darkness. No one will ever love you again!” the Medicine Man shouted. And that, he figure, was punishment enough. He flew away, thinking that no one would ever admire Raven for his beautiful plumage again.

Raven didn’t care. He’d given the People the Sun, Moon, and Stars. He’d given them the Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes. But he was sad he’d not been able to give them Fire, too.

Many long days and nights passed and eventually Raven began to miss the old man’s daughter. He hadn’t dared to visit her in all this time, fearing the Medicine Man would try to kill him. But, one day he could stand it no more and flew from the mountain, down into the valley, and came to rest in a tree by a sparkling stream near where she lived.

As luck would have it, she was just coming from the cottage with a large kettle full of water in her hand. Raven waited and watched as she carried the kettle to a pile of sticks stacked nearby. Next, she pulled out her dagger and a shiny black stone. The daughter crouched, scraped the steel edge of the dagger to the stone and sparks flew into the dry tinder. Within minutes, there was a fine fire for cooking.

Too curious to stay away any longer, he swooped down.

The daughter was delighted and surprised to see Raven as Grey Hawk had told her Raven had been killed. Raven told her all that had happened and then about how he’d lost Fire among the rocks. The daughter laughed and said, “No, it wasn’t lost at all.” She showed him the rock and knife and how when the two were rubbed together, they made fire. “So you see, you gave us Fire, too!”


To this day, Raven and Hawk remain enemies and you can still see and hear them fighting in the sky. And despite having lost his white feathers, Raven is much beloved by the People for it was he who brought them so many good things.

Author’s Note: I make no claims to the originality of this tale, only in the creation of this particular version. I’ve based it on several other pre-existing stories.


Speaking Of Crows : Part 3

Crows & Ravens

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you’ll know I’ve been working on making friends with the small murder of Crows that resides near my house. And what better way to befriend a wild animal than to feed it?

Last year I noticed they were over at the neighbors quite often, eating under her front pine tree. Not sure what she was putting out there, but I was eager to have some ebony-winged visitors of my own. After some research I found out that they really like peanuts in the shell and pet kibble so started tossing a bit of that into the side yard between my house and said neighbor.

It didn’t work all that well. The Crows would come, but they acted very, very uncomfortable about the location I’d chosen. I suspect it had to do with the big forsythia bush and the woodpile being fine places for cats to hide. Especially after I saw our local prowler out there lurking in the bush, eyeballing the array of bird feeders my son maintains.

After some consideration, the feeding spot was moved to the back corner of the property, some twenty feet from the new deck we put up just before the wedding in August. Not so many hiding places for the cat and a comfy place for me to sit and watch my future feathered friends should they ever got over their obscene level of paranoia.

More research had taken place between the start of the experiment and then and I’d learned to use some sort of call every time I went out to scatter the goodies.  I considered an actual Crow call, but was quickly talked out of that idea when my fellow Corvid enthusiasts said it probably wasn’t a good idea if I lived in an area that permitted Crow hunts. Sadly, I do. In fact, I pretty much refuse to patronize a certain bar in nearby Pennsylvania because they sponsor a Crow hunt every year. Shame… it’s a nice bar, but I just don’t feel right giving money to a place that encourages the senseless killing of my totem animal.

Be that as it may … the feeding place was moved and in a way I allowed the Crows to train me at first. I’d wait until I heard them cawing away in the front maple tree. That told me they were nearby and that they’d see me, unless they flew away, of course, which they did for awhile. Thus, leaving the peanuts to the ever-vigilant Blue Jays instead. Blue Jays are Corvids as well, so I can’t really get too annoyed at them for being clever like that. From my studies, I knew the Crows watched the Blue Jays, so I’ve let it slide and besides, running back out there shooing away the Jays won’t encourage the Crows that it’s a safe place to fly down and feed.

Since returning from our honeymoon, the tactics have been changed slightly. I’ll sometimes still go out if I hear the Crows in the tree, but not always. And when I do, I’ll look to see where they are – usually in the front maple watching and waiting – give the whistle, rattle the plastic dish, then toss out the goodies. I want them to associate that whistle with food, Pavlov’s Crows, if you will.  Just this past week, I’ve found that I can go out on the back deck, shake the dish and whistle and eventually, the Crows will arrive. It’s slow and not always guaranteed. On Saturday I went out three times and when no Crows came the first two times, I went back inside after fifteen minutes without putting the food out. This did not sit well with the Jays, but they’ll get over it, I’m sure.

My third attempt was a success. Maybe the first two times they just weren’t within hearing range of the whistle, but the third time, within ten minutes after stepping out the back door and whistling, the first Watcher Crow came to perch in the maple before moving closer to pine beside the one I feed them under. I waited a bit, whistled again and then another showed up. Of course, the Jays were already bouncing around in the tree oh-so-eager. I’m surprised they don’t dive bomb me while I have the dish in hand.

Knowing the Crows won’t come down until I walk away, I had no choice but to toss out the nuts and kibble. They had seen me, they heard the whistle, they knew I had the food and well, it was up to them to get rid of the Jays if they wanted to get any of it.

They are getting braver and don’t fly away quite so quickly as they used to when I step out. In fact, the Watcher Crow doesn’t even move from his perch now. He, well, watches. When he deems the coast is clear, then they will come down and feed. And, when I first started there were only three Crows. This weekend, there were four. Maybe Jr. got himself a girlfriend?

It’s going to be tougher now with the time change in effect. Crows go to roost before sunset and now I won’t be getting home from work until after that. Kind of sucks. This leaves me only the weekends or days I have off to try and call them in. I’ll keep at it though and post another progress report in a few more months… sooner if something phenomenal happens!

Caw, caw, caw!

Speaking of Crows : Part 2

When last I wrote of the crows, they (and the starlings and blue jays) were nibbling on stale whole grain Cheerios and left over popcorn.

I’ve been doing more research on my favorite bird since then and quickly learned that not only are they keen on in-shell peanuts, but dog and/or cat kibble. When grocery day came, I bought both and hoped for the best. If it didn’t work, I’d only be out about $10.

For nearly a week now I have been putting out 8-10 in-shell peanuts and a handful of dog kibble in the same place I’d put the popcorn and Cheerios, the side lawn just beyond the regular bird feeders. Consistency is important and I hoped that the crow family would eventually come around again.

When I heard the crows nearby in the morning as I was packing my lunch for work, I’d put the food in a plastic dish and shake it to make noise as I walked out to the feeding spot. I could tell SOMETHING was eating the peanuts as the shells would be cracked and scattered, but wasn’t sure what.

This morning, it was business as usual. I heard the *caw-caw-caw*, went and got my little dish and headed out. Within ten minutes, one of the crows had arrived. He was very, very wary – doing a little side step shuffle thing before grabbing one of the peanuts, hopping back quickly, then carrying it out a bit further into the lawn to crack it open. He came back time and time again though, taking some kibble then a peanut each time. Eventually he was joined by another crow who seemed a bit less timid. Of course, by then, most of the peanuts were gone, but it looked like he found one still left as well as noshing on some of the kibble.

I’m very excited about the progress. At least now I know that they know the food is there and I will continue with my efforts to make them my friends.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Campbell-Smith : The Corvid Blog :

Speaking of Crows…

After years of dreaming, I have what I call ‘my crows’ now.

Saturday morning I tossed 1/3 of a bag of stale Cheerios out into the lawn, about 25 feet from the kitchen sink window along with three very blackened bananas. My hope was to entice the crows I’ve seen around, but that never seem to get very close. I had no idea if they were into bananas but the Cheerios seemed promising. I went out to the kitchen around 4:30 to start dinner and much to my delight, three crows were out there eating the Cheerios. Even better, it appeared to be a family unit of mom, dad, and baby though baby was just as big as mom and dad.

S/He kept hopping after one or the other squawking and open-mouthed while doing that wing-flapping FEED ME thing. Mom and Dad were having none of that. The food is right there, buddy. Help yourself! Junior was quite persistent until one of the parents had had enough of that nonsense, nudged its offspring rather roughly and flew away with an annoyed “Knock it off,” squawk. Junior seemed rather confused at this and turned around to find himself alone as Parent #1 had hopped off quite a ways during the ruckus. I’d like to say it was Mom that got pissed and stormed off, while Dad went about his business from a safe distance. Mom eventually returned and the family unit lingered a bit longer, one taking a few pecks at the offered bananas but otherwise, not much interest.

Saturday night I indulged in some popcorn and intentionally left a couple handfuls over to be put out in the same area as the Cheerios. Knowing crows are early risers, I’d planned on tossing the leftovers out early, but didn’t make it until around 8:30 or so. Way too late. Still, I remained hopeful and put them out.

Around 4:00, again, as I was doing some dinner prep, I looked out the kitchen window and there were ‘my crows’ checking out the popcorn, picking up more of the Cheerios and from what I could tell, still ignoring the bananas.

At 6:30 this morning while putting my lunch together and sipping coffee, I looked out. Guess who was there? Yup, “my crows” and I think maybe one was showing more interest in one of the bananas. Sadly, I had nothing new to put out before I left for work.  They are so much fun to watch and maybe one of these days I can be out there when they land and feed instead of 25 feet away and hidden behind two layers of glass. They’re pretty jumpy. One even did an impressive hop when my son coughed upstairs in his bedroom so this will take time.

I’m happy to watch them from afar for now, but I think it’s time to buy a big bag of peanuts in the shell and start putting a few of those out every morning. I’m told crows really like peanuts in the shell and it’s much more appealing to me than tossing road kill out there.

Of Ravens, Poe, & Dickens

I found out something very cool this morning, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.

I don’t have much interest in any other birds, but my fascination with crows and ravens goes back decades. I don’t know when it started or why. It’s just one of those things that has always been a part of me. I can sit and watch them for hours. I love the sounds they make. I hesitate to call those sounds songs, but when they get to talking amongst themselves it’s a very cool listen. I’ve learned the difference between the two and it always annoys me to no end when they are featured in scary books and movies as nocturnal creatures. They aren’t. In fact, Corvids are one of the first birds to head to their roosts at night. Don’t even get me started on the ignorant idiots who go on crow hunts believing these birds are attacking and killing their farm animals. What a crock of bird shit! Crows and ravens ARE NOT raptors, people! They aren’t birds of prey. They don’t attack lambs, or chickens, or new born calves for Pete’s sake. Do some research!!! But, I digress.

As part of my final for a public speaking class I took in high school, I read Poe’s The Raven, as you would expect. I’ve featured the crow and raven in my first published paranormal murder-mystery, Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon (formerly known as Blood of the Scarecrow) and though the birds DO appear at night, it’s for very abnormal reasons. I’m told one of my uncles had a pet crow, of a sort. It wasn’t caged or anything, but apparently he’d rescued it at a young age and for quite some time it hung out with the family and would allow them to hand feed it. I really need to get a raven tattoo!

As a fan of horror, I am also a fan of Edgar Allen Poe. When I did the whole U.S. Civil War reenacting thing I had several small books I would sit and read appropriate to the time period. A selection of Poe’s short stories was the most popular one for me to pick up. I’ve yet to get to Baltimore to check things out, but it’s on my Bucket List.

I’ve read a fair amount of Dickens, too. Although, truth be told, Wilkie Collins is by far my favorite Victorian-era novelist. If you haven’t read anything by Collins, I strongly suggest you do. Not only were Collins and Dickens each others contemporaries, they were also friends and worked on several theatrical pieces together. We can’t forget about good old Bram Stoker either, can we? And the first novel of that period I ever read, Dracula, at a mere ten-eleven years of age. I’ve read that bad boy a good ten times and am way overdue for another go through. They wrote differently back then. It’s a style I greatly admire.

So, what does all this have to do with what I found out this morning? It seems that Charles Dickens acquired a pet raven in the name of research (yeah, we authors go to interesting length in the name of research). This bird in turn inspired Edgar Allen Poe to write The Raven. I thought it was cool anyway and worthy of sharing. Check out History Buff’s article HERE to learn the whole story!

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go get more caw-fee.