(Pencil drawing of crows by Alexander Kennedy.)
To attract the mirth and excitement of a colony of crows, simply put your trash out on trash day, but make sure that the lid to the can will not close. Then, watch with delight as the crows tear apart the plastic bags and drag your trash through the neighborhood for all to see. Run out of the house in your pajamas and chase after your dignity, one feminine napkin at a time.
Unfortunately, the one member of our house who gets a front-row seat to all of this is Alex, whose room (where he studies and takes his classes online) faces the front street of our neighborhood. Alex is super tired of their shenanigans.
“Dad,” I heard him say one day at breakfast, “it’s like they call out to one another. I can hear them calling to one another when they see our trashcan.”
“Yes,” Nate replied. “Crows are very smart. They know about water displacement. If there’s just a little bit of water in a glass, they will fill it up with pebbles so that the water will rise, and they can drink it.” And Nate goes on and on about all of the wondrous things that crows can do, and when I ask him for his source, he says, “Nature shows! I watch nature shows!”
I believe that Nate has amassed a stunning amount of corvid knowledge from nature shows, but now I want to know more, so I find the Audubon Society website, and there’s an article by John Marzluff from the University of Washington. This article opens with the following ominous words: “The crows in your neighborhood know your block better than you do. They know the garbage truck routes. They know which kids drop animal crackers and which ones throw rocks. They know the pet dogs, and they might even play with the friendly ones. If you feed them, they probably not only recognize you but your car as well, and they might just leave you trinkets in return. These birds live their lives intertwined with ours, carefully observing us even as most of us barely take note of them.”
After reading these words, I’m super concerned. Crows are watching us! They are watching us! They know us. And not one of them has left us a trinket. They’ve gifted our trash trinkets to other people, but they’ve never left us shiny things, and I really, really like shiny things.
As I read the Audubon Society article a little further, it appears that, according to a study that Marzluff and Kaeli Swift published, crows will gather around an effigy of a dead crow and make the association between death and danger. So, it is possible that, if we want to get rid of the crows, we could make an effigy of a dead one and hang it upside down somewhere near our trashcan.
“I’ll get a drawing of the prototype ready,” Alex said. And he wasn’t kidding. As you can see from the sketch below, Alex went dark. Very dark. No actual crows would be used to make the effigy, but I’m sure we could raid a Halloween store to find a crow-like object and hang it upside down.
But something tells me the crows would catch on. The conversation would go something like this:
Destructive Corvid 1: Hey! Trash day! It’s trash day!
Destructive Corvids 2-100: Trash day! Trash day! Go to that one house where the trashcan lids don’t fit. You know where it is!
DC 1: Hey! Whoa! Who’s that? Which one of us is that, hanging upside down?
DC 2: It’s Bob! No! No, not Bob! Just yesterday, I saw him flying around with trinkets for the good children and pets.
DCs 1-100: Oh, Bob! No, not Bob! Let our loud cries pierce the clouds and interrupt Zoom meetings everywhere!
DC1: Wait a minute. If you poke Bob with your beak like this, it doesn’t feel like a real bird.
DC2: Yeah, let me try! You’re right. Remember when we used to case the Halloween store on the other side of town? And they’d bring those stuffed raven decorations in to sell?
DC1: Yep, yep I remember it. That’s what this is. It’s not Bob.
Bob: What’s all the yammering about?
DCs1-100: Bob! You made it! You’re not dead!
Bob: Of course not. You think I’d miss out on prime trash like this?
Working together, they would throw the crow effigy through Alex’s window and laugh while strewing the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks headquarters trash throughout the neighborhood.
And we will all be sleeping with one eye open from now on.
Your Turn: What are animals (wanted or unwanted) that frequent your backyard or neighborhood?