I started writing this story about crows on Mastodon. It is based on real life experiences that felt magical.
The crows started visiting me in mid-September. Two crows came right up to my home to “bark” at me. Never seen anything like it before.
I was at my computer, working on a piece of writing. The wall behind me has no window, and the window next to me is covered by blackout curtains. The two crows parked themselves at the corner of our mobile home and “barked” as loudly as they could. It sounded like they were pointing their voices at me, despite not having any way to actually see where I was.
When I went to the window, the two crows moved from the corner of the mobile home and bounced into our driveway. It had been a long time since I’d been well enough to drive, yet another thing my chronic illness stole from me. We donated the car a while back, and the driveway had been empty ever since.
One crow wandered off, but the other one stayed. Moved around in the alleyway, and kept coming back. Eventually, flew away, landed on a wire, and “barked” at me again.
Was I supposed to follow them? I didn’t see any quest text…
The whole thing seemed really strange, so I posted a little bit about it on social media. Surely, someone out there would tell me that this had happened to them, too… right?
A friend asked, “Do you have ‘View low level quests’ enabled? You may have out-leveled the area already.”
“That must be the problem!” I responded. I searched around, and finally found the button to view low level quests. Click!
“I’ll be ready when the crows come back!”
A stranger suggested that I should start feeding the crows. I’m in California, and I think we are not supposed to feed the wildlife. I’m also in a mobile home park where I don’t think feeding crows would go over very well.
I feel like these two crows were either trying to warn me about something (no idea what) or have claimed me as one of their flock. I dunno.
After thinking things over, I put a few handfuls of some really stale Cheerios outside on my driveway for the crows. I wonder if they will come back?
The very next day, the crows came back. They ate some of the stale Cheerios I put in the driveway. When they were done, the “barky” crow cawed a “Thank You”. The two of them wandered around the alleyway for a bit, and then left. They seemed happy.
Apparently, stale Cheerios are an acceptable tribute. What have I gotten involved in?
Later that day, one of the crows returned. I could hear the crow making loud, but friendlier sounding, caw sounds. When I went to the window, I could not find the crow. It had to be nearby… but where?
On instinct, I glanced up. There sat the crow, on my neighbor’s roof, “smiling” at me.
My husband and I had a small flock of cockatiels. There were never more than six of them at any one time. Over the years, I learned to “speak bird”, for lack of a better way to say it. A bird that looks at you with one shining eye, while sitting all fluffy and relaxed – is smiling!
I smiled back at the crow, who seemed very pleased with me. All the houses in the mobile home park are close together. I could see that this crow had one white feather near their shoulder. That made it really easy for me to spot this specific crow when they visited.
Having done what they came to do, the crow with the white feather flew away. There was a large area of extremely tall trees across the road and beyond the car wash.
For years, I’ve been unintentionally summoning spiders. I seem to have leveled up to crows. Or, one crow, anyway.
About three days later, one of our cockatiels died. She was healthy, and eating, and interacting with our other birds. The change from healthy, to very clearly not, was shocking. She was right around the maximum age for a cockatiel lifespan, and sometimes birds just… stop. My husband and I took turns holding her as she slept on our chests, beneath our hands, warm and safe, and getting her head petted.
And then, she was gone.
In my grief, I remembered hearing some old story about crows acting as a portent of death. Were the crows trying to warn me about this? When I fed them, it was because the weather was starting to get cold, and I thought they were hungry. Now, I worried that by giving them something they considered valuable, I had unwittingly made some sort of bargain.
What have I done?
Time passed by, and my husband and I started feeding the crows. Not every day. We didn’t want them to become dependent upon us. Wild creatures need to be able to fend for themselves. I considered what we were giving them as “treats”.
The two crows returned shortly after my husband put out the last of the stale Cheerios. They came right into the driveway and started loudly cawing. When I looked out the window, I saw one crow picking up Cheerios from the driveway, with the other one standing by and watching over the first.
The second crow turned, looked right at me, and cawed again. It was as though they wanted me to know that they, and their companion crow, were enjoying the Cheerios.
Crows are not picky eaters. There were times when they landed in the alleyway and strolled right over to another neighbor’s bird feeders.
Often, I would look out the window and find some crows sitting on the wire, facing toward my home. Or, they would be on top of the telephone poles, scanning the horizon.
Once, we gave the crows popcorn that I failed to finish eating the night before. The wind blew it all across the alleyway. Soon, there were several crows landing, and running after the popcorn. There was a small flock of maybe six or seven crows, who seemed to think chasing windblown popcorn was a wonderfully entertaining game!
My husband threw a small handful of almonds into the driveway, on more than one occasion. We learned that crows love almonds! They clearly didn’t want to share the almonds with any other crows.
A strange thing started happening. Two crows, the one with the white feather and their companion, started sitting on the stone fence at the front of the mobile home park. They stayed there for what seemed like a long time. I’d never seen crows do that before, especially in an area where lots of people come and go.
I have chronic illnesses, and often am too sick to leave the house. My husband and I went outside one day, just for a short time, to play an app game that requires walking. We slowly walked up to the crows who were on the stone fence. They watched us pass by, very close to them, and did not move or fly away.
On the way back, we could see the two crows were still there. I was having a hard time walking, and breathing, that day. Did the crows notice that I am sick? Is that even possible?
There was a day when my husband I and walked to the nearest bus stop so I could go to a doctor’s appointment. One crow, up on a telephone pole, started cawing to the other crows in the area. Then, it started flying and following me to the bus stop. A second crow arrived, and they both sat on the wire directly above me.
One of them had a white feather. These were my crows! Or, I was their person. They were watching over me.
I remembered, many years ago, when I was in college, and had gotten lost on campus. I could not remember how to get to the building that my class was in. Panicking, I took a moment to close my eyes, to still my breath, and to focus.
When I opened my eyes, a big, black, crow was staring down at me from the roof of one of the buildings. It flew down and found a closer perch. I remember looking into the crow’s eyes, and thinking, “I am lost.”
The crow … did they just nod their head at me? I must have seen that wrong. The crow made one quick caw, and started flying, circling back to make sure I was following them.
So, I followed. From the air, the crow led me down paths that I hadn’t walked before. Suddenly, the crow stopped flying. They perched themselves on a rooftop, right over the doorway of a building… that turned out to be the one my class was in.
“Thank you,” I thought at the crow, as I passed beneath them and opened the heavy door to the old building my art class was in. No one asked why I was late.
That crow couldn’t possibly be one of my crows. We met decades ago, and half a country away from where I was now standing. This pair of crows was new to me.
There was a day when I discovered that I was allergic to the blackberries that I had been eating. We decided to give what was left to the crows. My husband scattered the blackberries outside, and I went to take some allergy medication.
The pair of crows arrived. They looked extremely pleased with the food we offered them. Both crows were “smiling” at us, as they leisurely walked around, pickup up blackberries.
We didn’t see the crows much after that. I thought that maybe the reason was that the weather had started getting a bit colder, and more windy. Once in a while, one of the crows would come sit somewhere outside and “bark”, and wait for me to find them.
Later, my husband and I noticed that we were hearing what sounded like a crow that was screaming at the top of its lungs. This happened multiple times a day, for many days. We assumed that this was just an especially angry crow.
I wondered why the crows were staying away. They seemed very pleased by the blackberries, and didn’t seem to need any more food from us right now. Maybe this behavior was seasonal.
One day, I woke up to the sound of a screaming crow. It was loud enough to wake me up from a deep sleep – and I am a very sound sleeper. Not quite awake, I stumbled out of bed and found my husband standing in front of the open door of our home.
Outside, there were some crows, standing at the corner of our mobile home, like they did the first time we met. Two were doing insistent “barking” noises. The other one just kept screaming.
Upon spotting me, the two larger crows hopped over to the edge of our stairs. They looked up, giving us “smiling” eyes again. One of them had a white feather. The other crow gently nudged the screaming one, who got a bit quieter for a minute.
They looked at me expectantly, patiently waiting for me to understand. Oh! Suddenly, I knew. The screaming crow was their baby, who was now just old enough to fly over here for a visit. They were introducing their offspring to my husband and I, their people.
It was a beautiful moment that didn’t last long. Baby crow was making signs that indicated it wanted to be fed. Parent crows walked with the baby crow down the alleyway, and out of the mobile home park. The took flight from the sidewalk and returned to the grove of very tall trees.
One day, a while later, I saw two crows chasing a hawk out of the mobile home park. They tag-teamed the hawk, tiring it out. The hawk eventually sat on the top of a telephone pole. The two crows took turns poking at the hawk until it decided to fly away.
After removing the hawk, the two crows flew to back to the wires, perched, and looked over at me as I stood next to the window. I hadn’t been able to go outside for a long, long time. My crows were still watching over me.
A Crow Story is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.
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