Every morning I wake up and look out over the Arboretum tree tops. Sometimes there is a river of crows flowing south at dawn. They are going to work. Picking garbage. Eating grubs. Finding tasty bites where they can. A big group will gather to take a bath on the edge of the lake, splashing and talking. Another cadre will take off after the local Red-tailed Hawk in the Arboretum or the mama or papa Barred Owl. They “mob” them — screaming and yelling — to show the other younger crows who the dangerous predators are. Also, it might keep the raptors from going after the crow babies when they hatch in the summer. Some of us are “crow people” and some of us are “robin people.” The Robins worry about the mean old crows harassing all the little birds. The Crows say “that’s a crow’s job.” I’m a Crow. I love their intelligence and noise. They are always figuring things out. It is not their fault that they might eat a small bird now and then. They eat a lot of our garbage and leftovers, too. Our neighborhood is home to so many kinds of birds, people, cats and dogs. There is room for us to live here together. We all live in our own worlds but we are entwined. For good or ill. There is a lot of drama along our neighborhood streets and in our yards and parks. If you stop and listen and look you will see. Birds and other animals looking for food, hunting, mating and nesting. In the winter at dusk, the crows fly back north to their roost where they snuggle up together with thousands of other crows and sleep safely in a group.
Penny Bolton lives in the Arboretum neighborhood and leads bird walks in the Arboretum with Seattle Audubon. The next one is 9-11am, January 25, 2014, starting at the Graham Visitor’s Center. http://www.seattleaudubon.org/sas/