As I mentioned in a previous post, Monday is “details” day. So instead of posting about autism, aphantasia, or other neurodivergent news, I’m going to chat about something I’m passionate about.
One of my special interests is birds.
I don’t have a house or a yard, but I’m lucky enough to have an apartment with a balcony. I’ve been feeding hummingbirds for decades, but I only recently expanded my focus to songbirds and mourning doves. I offer the kind of food that they enjoy and that won’t irritate my neighbors. (Everyone smiles to see a songbird; no one wants to step out of their car and into a pile of sunflower seed shells.) I also offer safe, clean, fresh water, and a lot of plants to help my guests hide from the eyes of predators.
I love the birds that come by. I’m fascinated by the fact that every year brings a new dominant species. We never used to get dark-eyed juncos outside of winter; now they’re here year-round. I used to count myself lucky if I saw a goldfinch once a year; now I see dozens a day. The inter- and intra-species dynamics are endlessly enthralling.
But if I had it to do over again, I’d have made my balcony a crow sanctuary right from the start.
Crows! How can you not love a bird whose very name is a cry of delight?
If you keep an eye out, you can find a new story every day about some human rewarded for their generosity to these brilliant birds.
My spouse: hey I just read this amazing story about a woman who feeds crows
Me: (tries not to die of envy-induced heart attack)
Spouse: So this woman puts food out for crows in her driveway every day –
Me: hey I was just thinking what if you started parking in the street from now on?
Spouse: That’s going to be rough on street-cleaning days.
Me: DO YOU WANT ME TO BE HAPPY OR NOT
Spouse: Also the neighbors who share that driveway might not be thrilled if your crows are out there eating right when somebody needs to get their car.
Me: DUDE WHATEVER
Spouse: …honey, I know you love crows –
Me: You could end the sentence right there and the world would be a better place.
Spouse: – but we ARE the building managers.
I was sadly convinced that having once offered the balcony to birds who are prey, it would be the worst kind of betrayal to give space to birds OF prey.
But the driveway really wasn’t a possibility. Neither is our building’s shared courtyard. Or the alley that runs behind it.
I’d just have to keep admiring crows from a wistful distance.
Things finally came to a head this weekend, when Rye Crow came by.
Rye Crow is a member of our local group who occasionally uses the roof of the house across the alley for bread storage. A handful of times in the past few months, she’s stopped by with a slice of rye bread, set it down, and gone off in search of another.
It was always rye and I never saw her eat it. At most, she’d pace around protectively for a few minutes before heading out on another supply run.
I’ve mentioned this to my spouse, who found it as entertaining as I did. It was just one more neighborly foible, like that hundred-year-old guy down the street who keeps an Oktoberfest banner over his porch year-round.
Then yesterday changed everything. For me, at least.
It was Sunday. I’m usually up early on Sundays – out for a jog, then home to make waffles or pancakes.
I have chronic health problems and occasionally they tackle me hard. Yesterday my morning plans were derailed by a bout of nausea bad enough to keep me in bed until nine o’clock, which for me is like a normal human sleeping until one in the afternoon.
Me (staggering out, still in night clothes): yeah hey feeling lousy still want waffles though
Spouse: Rye Crow was here!
Me: wait what
Spouse: She was actually eating bread!
Me: ARE YOU KIDDING ME
Me: THE ONE TIME I’M LAID UP LATE SHE DOES SOMETHING EXTRA COOL
Spouse: …it was really neat.
Me: YEAH GREAT IF ANYONE NEEDS ME I’LL BE OVER HERE NOT SEEING CROWS BEING AWESOME
Rye Crow came back later with a friend. My spouse was able to get some great pictures thanks to his terrific zoom lens.
We marveled over the pizzazz of these personality kids. We speculated as to whether they might leave slices of bread on this roof because it’s easier to take bites of toast than soft bread.
And just like that, I couldn’t stand it any longer.
Me: Okay, that’s it.
Spouse: What’s what?
Me: I’m in.
Me: I have to start feeding crows.
I’d already started playing around a bit with the layout of objects on our balcony, seeing if it would be possible to keep everyone safe and fed and also let me take some real steps toward becoming a friend of the crows rather than just an abstract admirer.
Spoiler alert: yep!
But that’s another story for another blog post.