My uncouth neighbors: A murder of crows
If you love hummingbirds like I do, you already know that crows are among my least favorite birds. I know: They are wicked smart. I know, too, they’re important to the overall ecology of things. But they’re uncouth, murderous beings, in my view. I’ve watched in horror as they preyed on nesting hummingbirds. I’ve seen them bully our songbirds into cowering silence. So as much as I love and respect their place in nature, they’re not welcome here. None, whatsoever. Not for a minute. Not even one.
But crows are marauders, with minds of their own. And wouldn’t you know it, those unwanted guests have taken a liking to our backyard birdbath. Not for splish-splashing, like civilized birds. Nope, they’ve come to baptize their own. And by that, I mean their pantry items: Peanuts, lizards, stale bread, road kill…whatever detritus it is that these horrid creatures digest. They don’t offer shiny objects in return. They don’t sing with the goldfinches and dawn. Nope, they just dredge their kill through the fresh water, cawing loudly as if to brag about their culinary prowess, and then fly away with their carrion in tow.
Turns my stomach to even think about it, much less watch out my window. But last week, a murderous corvid did something even worse. When the sun was at its peak, he dove headlong into my birdbath, carrying a limp, befeathered carcass in its beak. It was touch-and-go landing, during which he swished the carrion in the fresh water…and then, he decided to let it marinate a little longer.
No, uh-uh. Not on my watch. I marched my nauseated self out to the garage, grabbed a shovel, and flipped the crow’s prey into a thicket where it could decay in peace. I then sanitized the birdbath so the honeybees and songbirds could dip into their pool without risk of contracting a disease.
But the very next morning, he plunked that decomposing bird into the birdbath again! Detached feathers, floating up from the bottom. Murky water, swirling around a lifeless beak. I flipped the carcass into the thicket again, choking back waves of nausea as I scrubbed the birdbath clean again.
Not 24 hours later–good gracious, can you give it a rest?–there it was again, that pitiful bundle of bones and feathers! And my unwanted guest was perched on the back fence, raising a ruckus. It was a nightmare, akin to finding myself thrust into a director’s cut of THE BIRDS! But I wasn’t having it, not any more. I scooped the marinated remains into a plastic bag, and then carried it out to the garbage bin. (RIP, you poor thing.) Believe you me, I made sure the lid was sealed really tight.
Why would crows do such a thing? Turns out, they like to soften their food before eating–especially carrion, which gets stiff over time. Turns out, it’s the culinary genius of mama crows, who create from stale bread and rotted meat a nutritious soup for their babies.
Well, alrighty then. I get that nature has her ways, not all of them pretty. I understand that, while hummingbirds and crows aren’t “birds of a feather,” they share in common the fight for survival. And every species on the planet needs to reproduce and feed their babies. But this is my yard, my birdbath. So my message to the murderous flock of uncouth neighbors that are cawing overhead again this morning is…NIMBY!
Photo Credit: Alexandra Rudge/Getty Images, because I don’t even want them on my camera roll.