The Way of the Crow



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Several people have written letters to me regarding the crow's affinity for hiding and burying objects. For example, Norman Deale of Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia, comments,

When Jim (a pet crow) was given more food than he could eat, he would always bury the remainder in the grass, or snow, for future use. Every spring he was always busy re-burying bits of food exposed by the melting snow.

Anything shiny attracted Jim and that, too, would be carried off and buried - teaspoons, rings, etc. He was about one day when we were putting up an ariel for the old battery radio (a five tube Serenader). One of the white porcelain insulators, about 2" long and 3/4" wide with holes in either end, was lying on the ground. Jim, apparently took a fancy to it and tried to carry it away for concealment. But every time he tried to pick it up, it would slip out of his beak.

After several unsuccessful tries, Jim stepped back several paces, cocked his head sideways to study this unruly prize, then went up to it again. This time he arched his neck, stuck his "top bill" through one of the holes, then closed his "lower bill" on the end of the insulator! We watched as he tipped his head back then successfully ran off to bury another treasure!

 Joan Stiles of Northport, Nova Scotia, writes,

Jake (the crow) would steal anything in sight and hide it. I would be sitting outside on my lawn chair, having a cigarette and coffee - he would land on my chair and have my lighter gone so fast, then land on the telephone pole, put it down, and yell hello, hello. What a time we would have to get it back.

I had to be careful about leaving a cigarette in an ash tray n the picnic table because he would stteal it. We were afraid of him starting a fire. In fact, he almost did one day. I was outside on my lawn chair having my coffee and cigarette, when just as I went to have a puff that rascal snapped it right out of my fingers, and went up on top of a tree, cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth, head cocked, looking pretty smug. All kinds of coaxing could not make him give up the cigarette. But he made the mistake of yelling "hello". Down came the cigarette into the brush - if my husband hadn't been there, it could have started a brush fire. So I was very careful after that incident.

Our next door neighbour came out to get in his car one morning, car keys in hand, when Jake swooped down and took his keys and landed on our roof. The door bell rings and a very angry neighbour is demanding his keys - needless to say, it took a lot of coaxing and many favourite treats to get him down with the keys.

 We got calls from neighbours who claimed he was stealing milk money out of the milk bottles. He was accused of going in their children's bedroom windows and ripping their pillow cases (This we didn't quite believe). It got so bad I hated to answer the phone, because I might hear, "Are you the crow lady?" I would wonder what our little black devil had done now? Maybe we made a big mistake when we spent hours throwing him in the air to teach him to fly. A bigger mistake when we wanted him to be free. But we wouldn't have done it any other way.

Stephen Czapalay from Barrington Passage, Nova Scotia, in a letter to me, relates some rather amazing incidents with crows,

I taught mathematics in Quebec for thirteen years, and on one warm spring day I was teaching with the windows wide open. Suddenly a crow appeared on a window ledge. I quietly whispered to the students not to move nor say anything.

Cautiously it entered the class and from the window ledge surveyed the nearby desks covered with math tools, pens, etc. It then hopped to the nearest desk, seized an eraser, and flew directly out the open window. The grade nine students there really enjoyed it, and after the crow's departure the room buzzed with chatter.

This wasn't an isolated incident. It returned several times to my lessons and stole a ball point pen or pencil. Then, sadly, we never saw it again. Imagine locating the nest of this crow! What treasures would be there.

About thirty years ago my brother and I were golfing at the Parrsboro nine hole course in Cumberlain county. It's a beautiful location beside the Bay of Fundy. He and I are both the worst kind of golfers, and if either of us made a half decent shot there would be a lot of talk and good natured ribbing....

We had muddled through the first two holes - there's lots of forest and a high cliff to the Bay of Fundy, so scores can run high if you slice or hook as the case may be. So there in front of me was the number two hole, about two hundred yards if I remember it. I teed off first. Amazingly the ball landed on the green and rolled to within two feet of the pin. Then my brother began his chatter and good natured teasing. Suddenly out of no where a crow landed on the green, cawed a couple of times, took several steps towards my ball, seized it in its beak and flew off! According to my brother I had to play another ball, which I hooked into the trees to his great pleasure. Imagine finding the nest of this "sporting bird" or, for that matter, some poor female sitting on the ball forever wondering why it never hatched.

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