A bird-lover’s report on the crows of Cleveland, OK

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Here’s a recent observational letter from local farmer Joseph Hoyt to the Cleveland (OK) American. I like that ‘his crows’ signal him for food the way ‘my chickadees’ call me out for leaving their feeder empty.

The crows have gotten to the point that they accept me, maybe not as a friend, but at least as a source of food. Sometimes, as I’m working outside, they perch on a nearby tree branch and yell at me. I’m beginning to learn that that three “caws” in succession means, “Meet me at the barn. Bring food.” If I have anything for them, I’ll give in to their demands, and by the time I get back to the house, they’ve already swooped in and started eating.

I feed other birds too. Hummingbirds, for instance, have grown accustomed to stopping by the patio for sips of nectar on warm summer days. They’ve gotten so used to me, in fact, that I can sit near their feeder and they will fly within a few inches of my face. Cardinals perch in the grapevines and blissfully eat to their hearts content with me standing a few feet away. Chickadees and titmice flit around here and eat the seeds that I’ve put out for them, and jays and woodpeckers will play in the birdbath. But there is something different about the crows.

Crows have and aura about them, and intelligence that can be sensed as you interact with them, and the more I’m around them, the more I notice a nonverbal communication between us. It’s almost as if we’re always playing games with one another.

Farmer Hoyt gets it: he shares his hilltop not only with the crows and other birds and his neighbors, but with all generations of all creatures past and future to inhabit his land. The very act of accepting that he has a responsibility to something other than himself is a refreshing change in this era. It’s good to be reminded, or simply to remember, we’re not alone on this Earth. Read the rest of his letter here.

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2 thoughts on “A bird-lover’s report on the crows of Cleveland, OK

    Leslie said:
    December 7, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    A salute to you, Farmer Hoyt…and to you for posting this. My friend, a poet, Dg Okpik is Inupiaq and Inuit from Alaska. She once told me Ravens have over 200 different calls. I’ve always remembered that when I hear the familiar caws of our little ol’ okie crows outside.

      wes responded:
      December 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM

      Your friend couldn’t be more right about the crows & ravens. When I first came to my new neighborhood the dog & I hopped out of the car in front of our (now) apartment building to look & walk around the neighborhood before the realtor arrived for our tour. One of the neighborhood crows flew over and settled on the line above us, very obviously eyeballing us. After a while he called out to his friends, who repeated the same call, bush-telegraph-style. I wondered then what name the crow had given me (‘hairy man with dog’), or if the crow had mentioned me at all (‘dog, and also a man’). Either way, I’ve cultivated their indifference if not acceptance. By walking at an even pace and greeting the crows at an even volume I am able to walk no more than 2′-3′ from them without their bothering to shift a feather.

      Every now and then one comes and lands on my back porch to eyeball the dog’s food bowl through the sliding glass door too. He must’ve found the door open one summer day because he sure looks disappointed every time he has to fly away empty-beaked.

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