The Black Plague

I’m a bird person. While most people who are bird people are termed somewhat eccentric, I can personally attest to how our minds work. I am the owner of a 4-year old Senegal parrot named Tiki. She, along with myself, is making her debut in American Mary. Last summer, she made a new friend and doing so has doomed me to a life of avian servitude.

There is a fair bit of urban wildlife where I live on the West Coast. Vancouver has Stanely Park which is home to a diverse number of lifeforms and is one of the largest urban green spaces I can think of. We are a coastal and mountain city so everything is free range from black bears, to raccoons, otters, and dogfish.

And crows.

Last summer, a local pair were showing their fledging how to eat. The juvenile had a distinctly different call than it’s parents. For sake of argument I’ll refer to the juvvie as a ‘he’. He noticed that my pretty parrot sometimes likes to sit in my bedroom window and look at the activity in the breezeway. Whether it was the idea of forbidden love or the just found something to talk about, they struck up a friendship and would call to each other through the glass as he sat on the building across the way peering in. I didn’t have the heart to tell either of them it wasn’t going to work out.

That being said, lots of birds find companions outside of the species. There was a Cockatoo that was adopted by a murder of crows in San Francisco years ago, and Tiki even had a flirting session with two Scarlett Macaws on occasion. So it’s not unreasonable to think that the two of them could find one another of interest. Both are smart and seemed to get a kick out of what the other was doing on the opposite side of the window.

However, I made a crucial mistake. Seeing the crows, I decided one morning to dump some seed outside my building for them. It was stuff Tiki had picked through and didn’t eat from the day before. Rather than let it go to waste, I figured the crows could ‘forage’ out front. All was well in the world of animal recycling til the day when I decided to sleep in.

It wasn’t early by bird standards, but I needed my sleep. The night (or technically the morning) before had been a doozy and I was wanting to snooze. So it woke me with a start when I heard a loud caw from what sounded like inside my room. I snorted awake out of deep REM and heard it again. I realized it wasn’t coming from inside room but just outside. On the window ledge. I drew back the curtain in time to see a black shadow flying away.

It was breakfast time, and I had missed it.

So it’s been for the last year and a bit. To the point where, if I leave the house without feeding my murder (yes, there’s more now) I get followed for a few blocks and cawed at. They recognize my different disguises now, but also if they see me in gym gear they wait til I’m home, but fly at me when I’m going in the front; a friendly ‘reminder’ that they’ve waited patiently for breakfast. It’s a little scary to think they not only recognize me but they know where I live…

So I’m to sure what’s more disturbing to me. The fact that they have me so well trained at the routine or that I KNOW they have me well trained, but I still let them run my life. But considering how smart┬áCorvus brachyrhynchos is, I’m wondering if they’d not do better than humans in other arenas of life? Possibly in the House Of Commons? Sports? Arts? I’m unsure either way.

But I, for one, would welcome our new crow overlords.

Caw, caw.

Little Miss Risk

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