In the dead of the night
Thursday February 18th 2016, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Wildlife

More plum blossoms after the rain! (Snail deterrent at the base of the trunk.)

I looked out a back window this morning in time to see a large flock of crows fly across the neighbors’ yards, easily a hundred birds, coming and coming and coming (and just avoiding flying over our yard. Smart birds.) This surprised me because I’d been seeing fewer corvids around since a reported salmonella outbreak killed a lot of songbirds this past fall and I assume the scavengers who ate them as well, since that would explain why rather suddenly they weren’t everywhere all the time. (Newspaper link from last February on their then-population explosion.)

But here these were.

And so when I got to Los Gatos Birdwatcher to buy my monthly birdseed, I asked: “What’s the best way to keep the crows out of my fruit trees once things start ripening?”

The young clerk, unsure of herself at first, half-asked back, “Bird netting?”

And then it came to her and she brightened and added, “Or you could get on our rent-a-crow program.”

Wait, your what?! (Okay, this I had to hear.)

Behind her, she gestured, were two stuffed quite lifelike crows, one upright, one not so much. You put one keeled over in your yard for a week.

“At night,” the middle-aged woman behind her working on the books interjected without looking up.

At night, the younger one nodded. They’re rented for a week for $10 or you can buy one for $36–“And all the crows come and they hold a funeral for the dead crow. And then they all leave and they don’t come back because they don’t want to be where a crow died.”

Having read Marzluff’s book, Gifts of the Crow, yes, those are behaviors they do and yes definitely you’d want to put it out at night and I was glad to be reminded of what I’d read–because otherwise they would think you had killed it and they would teach their offspring to retaliate against you to the third and fourth generation: attacking, pooping on your car, stealing the rubber off your windshield wipers, you don’t mess with crows. Now, going outside and swinging my arms like I do they’re fine with–they understand territory claims and it’s an accepted thing. But hurting one of their own. Oh no. They will get you.

No soft fruits yet (lemons don’t count) so I told the women I was going to go home and have a good laugh with my husband–and then I was going to come back next time and buy one of those. (That way I know for sure I’ll have one available next year too no matter what they might be selling or renting then or not, but I didn’t say that.)

I need me a toy crow. Definitely. Feet up. Do not go out at dusk but only at the darkest of night and given the city lights I’d still put a hood half over my face. I can’t wait to loan it to my neighbor whose persimmons will be in full production come December when all my trees are done for the year.

I’ll have to drive the car away for hours the next morning after I put it out there so that they know I’m gone and that they can land in my yard to pay their respects.

3 Comments so far
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That crow trick is the funniest thing I ever heard! They’re smart enough to not return to the yard where a crow died but not smart enough to recognize a stuffed crow!

Comment by Jody 02.19.16 @ 7:02 am

I know, right?! But that’s why you have to have one that looks so realistic–even if you have to pay a (wait for it) stiff price.

Comment by AlisonH 02.19.16 @ 8:48 am

I enjoyed the post. But I enjoyed your reply to Jody even more!

Comment by twinsetellen 02.19.16 @ 1:07 pm

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