Crow Pancakes

I’m making pancakes for crows today, and I feel like something like this can’t go without explanation–please hear me out.

Many years ago, I started to get weird with feeding birds. I got all the fancy feeders and foods. It worked so well that I could no longer take work calls from the porch because people would comment that the birds were too loud. I bought the backyard bird guides and checked off each one as I successfully lured it onto my property. Ben and I would watch them each morning. Just watch them! What a marvel! Their sounds became the perfect sounds of life happening. An instant absence was felt if I ever forgot to refill a feeder.

I developed a rapport with the folks at the local Wild Birds Unlimited. We’d share stories about those DARN starlings (you can’t see me, but I’m shaking my fist at the sky) that come by the hundreds and decimate all feeders in sight. They are loud in a bad way and scare away all the more polite birds that actually live here. If you ever want an in” with a bird person, complain about starlings. They got me set up with all the right gear to keep them at bay. What a power trip.

I developed an enjoyable routine; I had a sense of when I’d need more of which seeds or suet and which birds preferred which treat. I’ve kept up with growing sunflowers since they proved to be beloved as a food source and playground. Plus, it’s a guaranteed way to see a gorgeous goldfinch. I figured out how to keep the squirrels from taking over and how to sanitize the feeders to keep all these generations of cardinals I’m raising healthy and happy.

It was easy, but not too easy. There were things to figure out and always a step further to take it if I wanted–and I always wanted. I got a watering stand, I created little nest building stations with cut yarn and hay, the bird store is in my regular errands rotation.

Armed with this inflated confidence, I set out to feed the neighborhood crows. This was the humbling experience I didn’t realize I needed since the crows wanted nothing to do with me. Worse, really, because they watched me and were around but rejected my offerings. Rejected me each day–this was clearly personal. These crows seemed uniquely picky and cautious. I started with popcorn. After a few months, one or two would take a few. I kept at it because they kept showing up but just staring and rejecting, mostly.

While I never gave up, I accepted that while I loved crows, they didn’t love me back. Until one day, I switched to dog food. This seems to have been what they wanted all along, and my dream of having a crow gang started to fall into place. After years, I still feed them the same dog food but also in-shell peanuts and scrambled eggs. They prefer to eat by 10:30AM–and by prefer,” I mean this is a requirement.

The thing with crows is that they are very smart, as we all know, and quite mischievous as well. Once they get used to being fed their favorite things, they expect it. They have a creepily accurate sense of time as well. So what happens is there’s a bit of a stressful deadline I’ve created each day for myself. If I miss this deadline, they make an absolute scene. They pop up looking through windows, they poke holes in packages, they poop all over the cars, they rip up sod and plants while holding a deadpan stare at the house. They scream. It’s cute, and it’s scary.

I continue to feed them out of both enjoyment and the desire to protect my property. I’ve read they pass on grudges for generations, and that just doesn’t seem like the legacy I want to leave behind. I’ve fully leaned into being the Crow Lady™ at the park across the street since this is where they live. They recognize me from half a mile away and engulf me in a little crow tornado. I wear all black, have pockets full of all their favorites, and continue trying new things, like pancakes.

Anyway, I have to go feed the crows their breakfast since the clock is ticking, and I don’t want to make their shit list–literally and figuratively, of course.

See you tomorrow over breakfast.

February 17, 2024

A tiny project byJoni Trythall inspired by friends at Wiggle Work.