I never realized I was so prejudiced. I'd prefer to think of myself as an open-minded, accepting, spiritually evolved kind of person who doesn't judge others by superficial appearance.
That was before the crow showed up at the bird feeder.
Yes, I realize that bird feeders are supposed to attract birds. In the few weeks we've had it out on the deck, ours has done exactly that.
The stylish chickadees and quick-moving finches drop in every day for lunch and sometimes for breakfast. A couple of pretty red-headed birds—purple finches, according to one observer; red crossbills, according to another—are regulars as well. A cardinal stopped by one day, but hasn't been back. We choose to assume its failure to return means it was just passing through and is no reflection on the quality of food we offer.
We enjoy watching all these welcome visitors. True, they're messy, they don't take turns very well, and their table manners are on the sloppy side. Still, they're entertaining. They're little. They're cute.
The other day, however, I looked out the window to see a crow stalking along the railing of the deck. It swaggered toward the bird feeder like a black-hatted gunslinger pushing through the batwing doors into the saloon. All it needed was some menacing theme music and a pair of spurs.
It gave the bird feeder a once-over, then took itself off to the nearest tree with a scornful squawk, clearly not impressed. Maybe the food wasn't up to its usual standard. That's what we get for not having road kill on the menu.
Whatever the reason, it would be fine with me if it didn't come back. We don't need a big-beaked bully hanging out on our deck to terrorize songbirds one-fifth its size.
It isn't that I have any objection to crows. Really. As a matter of fact, I rather admire the utter self-confidence with which they speak their minds for the whole neighborhood to hear. It's hard not to have some grudging respect for birds who can balance on slender topmost tree branches while they have heated discussions worthy of indignant politicians or talk radio at its most extreme.
No wonder one of my friends says a flock of crows should be called a "caw-cus."