Communicating with the Crows

Cranky crows are common in Ambleside. When we first arrive at our apartment on the seventh floor overlooking the outer Vancouver harbour, we pull the drapes, slide open the window to the balcony and step outside to enjoy the view. Inevitably, there are one or two crows sitting on the banisters, squawking wildly because we have invaded their domain. Obviously, in our absence, they have taken to using our balcony as an observation post over the neighbourhood.

Last year we noticed what we thought was an owl on the balcony of an opposite apartment. We were totally intrigued until, with the help of binoculars, we realized that the “owl” was one of those fake birds people put out to deter pigeons, seagulls and, undoubtedly, crows.

This year, we are developing a curious relationship with the crows that come to visit our balcony. They have become increasingly bold the longer we have been here.  Now they sit on the banisters even when we are on the balcony, often two at a time, cawing at each other. They seem to have no fear of us whatsoever, quite willing to carry on their conversations as we watch inches away. They jump onto our chairs and walk around on our floor almost, but not quite, approaching the door.

When I watch closely, I have observed that they are attracted to the green plastic wires which attach our Christmas lights to the balcony all year round. And then I noticed that they can spot scraps of food on the floor which I had not even seen. Of course. We eat on our balcony regularly, usually three meals a day, and our crumbs are probably inevitable. Trust the crows to show us what sloppy housekeepers we are.

A crow is a crow is a crow, and we have no idea if these are the same crows that come visiting daily, or whether our balcony is just a popular way-by on the local community route. Whatever. We are enchanted by them, and think of them as pets. In the first year of our marriage, my husband said we should have a bird. He knew nothing about birds, but put out the suggestion to counter my desire to get a kitten. It has taken nearly 45 years of marriage and we finally have our pet bird. And it’s not one, but several crows. Who would have thunk it?

Today would have been my father’s birthday. He was a bird lover who kept a fully stocked bird feeder hanging from his clothesline to watch from the kitchen window. It provided endless pleasure for years. He would have liked this post.

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9 comments

  1. lmmetcalfe

    This is a riot! As I started to read, I thought….. “I should purchase a fake owl as a gift – when I next stay at your place…” But as I read on, it looks like a far better opportunity to join in on the fun and watch.

    Enjoy!!

  2. Frances

    My experience with crows in the tropics was never pleasant! Glad you can appreciate them individually.
    Your father would have been pleased.

  3. Jorge

    Did they learn to say “Nevermore, Nevermore”? If not, you should teach them. Look forward to see you soon.

  4. Shirley

    I enjoyed this article, Marion. Crows apparently recognize human faces and therefore they are probably getting to know you and Bill!

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