“Man, that salad outside looks good. I’m almost jealous.”
It’s not really a salad, though. It’s sunflower seeds. Cracked corn. Peanuts. A handful of blueberries and strawberry tops, garnished with an equal handful of cat kibble.
On of the things I love about where I live is that it’s the territory of a family of crows. I don’t know them very well yet, but there are two who stand out: one I call Magni, because he’s the largest, most intimidating, and usually spends his time acting as a sentry for the others. Another, I call Muse. This one’s smaller and doesn’t fly far when I go out to fill the bird feeders — only to the other edge of the deck, where they sit and wait for me to finish. (I call them “Muse” because this behavior means that they’re the easiest member of the family to snap pictures of, so I have tons that I can use for painting references.)
I’ve planted plenty of things that crows like, though that’s mostly just different kinds of berries for now: three elderberries by the big maple tree, dozens of strawberries, four blueberry bushes. The little mock strawberries, embedded in the grass and clover like jewels, I leave alone. They’re not strictly desired, but their bright red berries are still edible and sought after by birds.
As the weather warms up, I see more and more small friends coming to share crow salad. There’re the ubiquitous house sparrows, song sparrows, cardinals, starlings, juncos, and one cocky blue jay. I sit in my kitchen, peering over the edge of the windowsill, to see where they go once they’ve eaten their fill. Kiko and JJ sit on the mat, chattering in their strange little cat language to birds that will never reply.
I’d like to befriend the crows that visit here, but the advice I’ve seen hasn’t been much help. I’ve tried crow calls, but they respond better to my ridiculous sing-song, “Hello, babies!” People say to give them peanuts, but these guys are more excited for cat kibble and odds and ends of fruit. Sometimes, though not often, they’ll sneak an orange tomato from my bush and fly off with it like raven stealing the sun.
This summer, there might be wild pigeon grapes too. Next, there’ll be beautyberry. Hopefully they like those.