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Monday, July 6, 2009


The brown-headed crow I've been watching and feeding sliced apple to is becoming my friend. Yesterday it ate apple and peanuts all day. And the day before. Over the last 3 days I've seen such improvement in the bird that it now has the balance of other crows and walks without a wobble, mostly. It's leading me to suspect that it might have been the last one to hatch, thus less aggressive with open beak beckoning to mother. Therefore, was fed less. I have a feeling mother might have weaned this one too soon for its well-being.

Since I've been throwing out slices of apple, this one comes around several times a day, checking to see if any new apple was waiting for him. I say "him" by assumption, perhaps projection. Better than it. The time I saw another crow barking at my friend, standing on one of his wings, letting him have it full in the face, I didn't know the one giving him the serious talking to was his mother. She comes around with her 5 new ones out of the nest. She's weaning them, but taking them to food to give them a chance to learn how to find food for themselves. Mostly they want her to feed them. They will gather round her with wings out fluttering and beaks open, running at mama when she has a slice. She hops away when they start crowding around her. I step out the door and they all fly off, but my brown-headed friend. He continues to peck the apple slice he's working on. The new camera has a feature for short movies. Yesterday I made a 3min+ film of my friend, and again today another one. When i moved to pick up the camera, the three others that had gathered flew off and my friend, no more than 10-12 feet away. Got another short film of crow pecking sliced apple.

Evening before last when I was at home feeding cats, I saw one of those plastic grocery store bags on the floor the other side of the stove in the kitchen. I reached down to pick it up and behold, the lost camera was under it. Now I have 2 digital cameras. I like the new one a lot with its movie feature, telephoto lens and the flash I can use or not use. The other one has a flash that goes every shot. When I don't want to use it I put a finger over it. It also has one lens and no options. It's a little bit smaller, and fits easily in my pocket. So when I go someplace where I don't want to carry a camera in hand, I'll take the smaller one. When I want to do telephoto or some other out of the ordinary shot, I'll use the new one.

Of course, finding the lost one, I felt a flash of regret over buying the new one, something I would not have done just to have the new options. Now I have them and I like them. I like the older camera too, mainly for its simplicity and convenience. I hate to think what the cameras that cost upwards of $500 and have features galore must be like to operate. I imagine about something like learning the dashboard of a passenger jet.

Back to the crow, I noticed between the time of the first 3 min film I made of him today and the next one, just a few minutes go, he developed a limp in his right leg. I asked him his name yesterday and the name Babusch came to mind, so that's the name I think of my new friend by. He's up and walking around with better balance and the assurance that other crows march with. He's perking up with energy and is more alert. I'm beginning to think he must have been undernourished and mama quit feeding him too soon.

I'm hesitant about teaching the crow to be comfortable around humans considering how little humans generally think of crows, esp. the older people who have gardens, and hunters who use them for target practice. I actually don't know very many people who have any use for a crow. In country tradition you kill crows. When corn sprouts up from the seed, crows come along and pull them up. We have a couple of rows of corn in the garden here and crows didn't snatch narry a seedling, or if they did, the corn is so thick they're not missed. There's not even a scarecrow or pie tins on strings. And there are plenty of crows around here.

Jr told me this morning of a time when he and some other men of Whitehead got together and went to a place not far away where there were thousands of crows. They'd been hired to kill the crows. They showed up with crow callers and shotguns. In his words, "Y'oughta seen the feathers fly!" A slaughter. It wrung my heart to hear it, but I managed to keep a straight face and not make some squeamish remark. I'm not ashamed of being squeamish about killing for its own sake, it's that I didn't want to register disapproval, because I don't disapprove. It's way in the past for one thing. I couldn't have stopped it if I'd been living then, wouldn't have attempted to. I didn't want Jr to feel like I was casting any judgment on him, because I was not. I'm not here to control other people. Sometimes it seems like I'm not here to control myself either. That's the hardest part, myself. As long as my control over myself is so weak, I sure don't have what it takes to presume to control somebody else.

I took in Jr's story like I would any other. I learned years ago to keep a straight face when older friends tell killing adventures. I tell myself it's my urban background eating bologna sandwiches, never thinking about cattle, pigs and stockyards and low-wage labor in nasty conditions. I'm somebody who will hit the brakes and slide sideways to keep from hitting a young raccoon.

One day last week driving into town on Jones St, my bypass street, a squirrel was sitting in the road with his back to me, sitting straight up looking the other way with interest. It was in my left tire track. I slowed down, slower and slower, expecting it to hear me, but it didn't. I stopped 7 or 8 feet from the squirrel with amusement. After I'd stopped, the squirrel turned around and saw the truck. It seemed like I saw his eyes bug out the size of black tennis balls. After a startled moment of paralysis, the took to running full speed to the tree by the side of the road.

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