A Curious Crow

By , July 23, 2012

When I arrived home from town on Thursday, I heard whales blowing off the beach, so I dropped my pack at the cabin door and went down to our “veranda” to see them. As I walked to the edge of the beach, I noticed a crow sitting on the planks that serve as walkways to the beach rocks. It sat calmly looking out toward the water, and hardly looked around as I came up beside it.

northwestern crow

The visiting crow, helping itself to our currants (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

We don’t see crows very often on our property. They seem to prefer the beaches on the point of our small peninsula for some reason. Sometimes they’ll pass by in a raucous mob, stopping briefly on our beach on their way elsewhere. Perhaps they give way to the larger ravens who live around us, claiming our beachfront and forest as their territory.

A solitary crow seems unusual. One that appeared so casual about my approach is even stranger. They may be bolder in general than their more wary raven cousins (I’d suggest that the more imaginative ravens see more ways a human might cause them harm, or at least inconvenience) but this individual seemed so uncaring that I began to think it might be ill. I’d just heard a report on the local news of a scientific survey being conducted here to see if West Nile virus has moved this far north, so the bird’s behavior sugested sickness to me.

However, the bird seemed in good health, just very unconcerned about my close proximity.

After a bit, the crow hopped down to the beach margin and began sorting through the currant bushes there. I’ve been watching them closely myself, as they’ll be ripe any day. Some few berries have already ripened. The crow started picking the berries, then hopped back to his original perch.

Was the bird drunk? That could explain its behavior. Birds often eat fermented berries, and go a bit crazy (woe to anyone who parks under a mountain ash or other berry tree at certain times of the year). This crow might be stuffed with berries, and groggy.

It left eventually. but not before I’d walked to within a few feet of it to take some photos.

Later, I noticed a litter of currants on the plank. Now I think that it might have been testing the berries for ripeness, and rejecting those that didn’t meet its standards. I’ll probably never know.

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