Crow lessons, Part 3, by SunBôw:
June 8: How to make friends happy… Don’t we all like a change in the menu sometimes? So do the Crows. Although leftover pasta and pizza crumbs are always a winner, they really appreciated this new dish of mango curry whole red rice, which they enjoyed with a concert of happy caws. They even dropped me a flower as a gift.
June 9: They finished the plate this morning, only a bit of sauce left at the bottom. Then they flipped the plate upside down to signify it’s empty…
Blessed and grateful to have such lovely neighbors and friends…
June 11: Hilarious! The only two stones the Crows have kept moving are the black obsidian representing them and the clear sunstone crystal representing me inside the square rock enclosure representing my house. I had put beard hair under the sunstone which they soon picked up weeks ago. However, today’s message was quite astonishing.
Today, they put the sunstone crystal in the northern corner of the house, as I slept in the northern corner room last night for the first time. I had noticed they were checking me and calling out each time I’d show up in a window, but they now confirmed they knew more of my private life than expected or than I knew about theirs.
Anyhow, as a test try, I put the obsidian closer to the window next to the sunstone, with a cheese curd representing the gifting area. Looking forward to see what their next move will be. Love to all…
More mind-blowing discoveries with my Crow friends
One thing the Crows have taught me is that each time you try to outsmart or surprise them, you’ll be the one to be dumbfounded. In this sense, they remind me of Sasquatch. It is in our best interest to learn from other sentient intelligent life forms rather than to assume we are the smartest and most evolved.
Just to pick up where I left last week, that time they picked up the cheese and nothing was moved, not even the two representative shiny stones we’ve been playing chess with. For an instant, I was tempted to think that the Crows are after all dumber than I thought and a bit opportunist.
A few days went by without any interaction when one morning, the lead female came cawing at my door, pulling on the hanging wire to get my attention. Looking out the window, I noticed that she had moved their black obsidian further away and slightly moved my sunstone halfway outside the window, intimating me to come out of my bird cage. I admit I was quite a slug lately with sciatica pain considerably limiting my mobility, concentration and productivity.
Anyhow, this was a clear invitation to communicate. I don’t feed them too much in this season, as I don’t want to domesticate them or create an addiction or dependency, I prefer to see them wild, free and autonomous. I just give them leftovers every few days, as a treat. I’ve noticed the closest nesting couple are bigger than the others as they eat better; they are the alpha leaders of their flock, yet they always share.
So the next morning I gave them chicken pie crumbs in an aluminum plate and they served me with a concert of cheerful caws while feasting. But something funnier and more interesting than basic habituation happened. It was a cultural exchange. After they had cleaned the plate, as I was in bed with my window opened, I heard the alpha female hanging around for a good twenty minutes, pecking slowly but repetitively at her mirrored image in the aluminum plate and cawing happily. I had noticed that they left beak marks in the plates, but this time she was really playing with her reflection.
I then started an elaborate conversation with her. They come pretty much daily to greet me by my windows except in bad weather, and since I’m already weirder than normal for hosting Crow parties on my doorstep, I don’t always caw back out loud, especially at five in the morning, to spare my neighbors. So I often answer with clucking sounds by clacking the tongue on the palate.
That morning, she started clucking back at me and I swear she was chuckling and laughing but cheerfully at my shy caws. We chatted back and forth for a while and it turned into a language lesson for both parties. I attempted repeatedly to say ”Hello!” in case human language made sense to her, she seemed amused, but replied in Crow language. Usually, when the plate is empty, they flip it over, but this time she picked it up and took it to her secret treasury. Later that day, she dropped me a call with a small piece of shiny plastic as a token. It seems like collecting shiny trinkets is more of her thing.
I was glad she had taken such a liking for the mirroring plate that she kept it as a gift. This inspired me to try another trick and put a small round framed mirror on the gifting space, hoping they might like it and curious to see their reaction. I waited again a few days, to give them time to get back to their wild living, but the occasion came when I had pizza crumbs. I know it’s not the healthiest food, but it’s one of their favorites, which they always enjoy and share admirably. I sat by the window and set the camera on a tripod to take a few shots and clips, to share with the interested audience. I broke each crust in two or three pieces, so they would not pick them all up too quickly and allow me some time to take images.
As expected, as I stepped out, I was greeted by cheerful caws and a few scouts started flying closer, as the offering was spotted. It didn’t take three minutes before the closest nesting female arrived and called out ”dinner!” to the neighbors, who soon gathered around. It seems like depending on the quantity of food, they know how many to invite for all to be served. That time, four or five came close.
As I’m learning, these few coming to pick food act as emissaries who bring back their part and share with their respective nests. The smaller youngsters are seen gliding at times, trying their wings from tree to tree, but they still depend on the adults for food and protection. So they rarely come very close, leaving that business to the adults, at least so far. The Crows were intrigued by the mirror standing in the middle of the gifting space and circled around curious, but kept their distance at first.
As usual, the biggest old alpha male and closest neighbor, who clearly is the head leader of the whole community, approached first to inspect the site and the catch of the day. He looked at himself in the mirror for a second, turned his head sideways seemingly amused, and started picking pizza crumbs as if nothing unusual happened. He knew there was no trap. Of course, Crows are used to see their reflection and are obviously smart enough to know they’re looking at themselves and not at another Crow.
As a reward for protecting his flock, the biggest old alpha male is always the first to pick food, while the females are basically on stand by, watching around. Whether this privilege is fair or not, no one argues and everyone patiently waits for their turn in the chain of command of their clan. He picked two pieces and left, followed by the alpha female leader and then a couple of neighbors in turn.
Hesitantly, each had a quick inquisitive glance at the mirror, before smartly understanding within a second by a few head movements that they were looking at their own reflection. Usually they pick one crumb at a time, but since I had split them in parts, they all took the time to pick two pieces at once, sometimes after a few attempts and some difficulty, but they all passed the test brilliantly.
The big old male returned to pick a couple more pieces, and again for the last two. However, although he seems to pick more, I have seen him distribute portions to the neighborhood, so he his rather a provider. To confirm this, he left me an amazing surprise, along with a new teaching, which I captured on video. After picking two pairs of crumbs and flying off to distribute them to his nearby clan, he returned and regurgitated an oblong ball of predigested food he had in his gullet.
This taught me three things. First, that like other species of birds, Crows carry masticated predigested food in their gullet to feed their chicks, males included. Fathers must carry more food at once, having a bigger throat. It was a densely compressed ball of grass with other binding organic matter, somewhat similar to horse manure but odorless, still moist when I picked it.
Secondly, this entire time he had been taking crusts away, he was dropping them to neighbors as he could not eat any with his gullet full. To prove this, after he dropped the peculiar food ball, he finally took one of the two crusts left, held it with his Crow foot and pecked at it to break off a few bites he gladly enjoyed. He then took what was left of the two remaining crumbs and flew off. So he definitely showed me he had distributed shares in his surrounding community before finally having his first bite.
Thirdly, he intentionally left this food ball as an offering to me, as far as I perceived by the way he looked at me. This is the food he had gathered, processed and carried to feed his chicks, left as a gift to show his goodwill and friendship, in exchange for the treats. It felt like he made me part of his family and he confirmed it vocally when I picked his offering minutes later. I know for some, this might sound weird, but even if I’m making this all up in my mind, I’m still grateful for these blessings and teachings. It was a timely appropriate teaching for Father’s Day, to say the least, from which we sure can learn.
Since years, I have practiced to recognize the females from the males and younger ones from older ones, starting by their caws. The male caws are lower, more ravenous, hoarse and often slower, while the female do higher pitch caw-caws often repeated faster. However, their voice becomes lower and slower with age and this for both gender. An Elder often does low, slow, loud repeated caws and is often the first to be heard, starting the others to engage and respond. The biggest male for instance is usually the first to crow like a rooster at the break of dawn, soon answered in the same nest by the alpha female, before neighbors start answering. To my knowledge, ”non-binary” birds exist in Nature at a rate of one in several millions, but it is a natural occurrence, not an artificial intervention, as only humans can do. Of course, regardless of claims or beliefs, Nature’s law was devised so that it takes both male and female and nothing more for biological life to procreate in the majority of sentient species, with rare exceptions.
In these photos and videos, we can see clearly the visual difference between the two genders. The male has a bigger size, a thicker neck, head and beak, and his back feathers are more delineated with reflections, while the female is smaller, with a thinner body, neck, head and beak, often slightly curved, and her back feathers are of a smoother, more uniformly colored deep dark black. There are other details that close observation provide, but these clues give a good start to identify them.
I should stop giving them food for the summer, to let them live their life wildly and freely. However, these interactions and shared rituals have been highly educative, entertaining and inspiring. As you can imagine, inter-species communications is an endless subject of study, developed through attentive observations and sustained practice over extended periods of time. There are too many details in my interactions with the Crows alone to document them all, let alone with all life forms.
4K videos are very long to upload on a slow connection, so I just take a few short clips and share the best ones. Some blurry clips also show interesting interactions, but I don’t upload them. Unfortunately, I can’t share any nor large format photos on WordPress, and the technical support team has no solution. It’s probably and bandwidth or connection issue. Facebook users can watch the three short clips HERE.
However, my post on that mega meta platform has been wrongly tagged for copyright infringement, as it seems Crow caws are already copyrighted, according to some dumbass A-i bot. So each platform has its downsides.
Sasquatch lovers might wonder what all of this has to do with our forest friends? The answer is everything. There is nothing those ancient caretakers of Nature would like better to see us doing than becoming caretakers of life, learning from other sentient intelligent life forms about their medicine teachings and how we can benefit from developing respectful, peaceful inter-species relations. Our closest relatives also have the ability to communicate with us through other relatives as emissaries.
Hoping these Crow stories and the insights they bring can be inspiring and interesting for the readers. In the last months, I have been less active online, working intensively on the third volume of my memoirs. I’m now at chapter 22, so about two thirds in, it should exceed 500 pages when published. In those memoirs, I share several medicine stories and teachings learned from many great teachers along my four decades of pilgrimages.
Interested readers can order the two first volumes in paperbacks or e-Books on THIS LINK:
Best blessings to all our relations…