It sounded as if Crowmaggedon was in progress in the back alley.
I went out to investigate — expecting, from the sheer volume of sound, to find a full scale murder going on.
Instead, I found two crows — Marvin and Mavis.
Sometimes just Marvin, as Mavis kept making trips back to check on the nest.
It was same call they make when poor Edgar (the cat) ventures out onto our back deck. It is, I’m guessing, their “gound threat” alarm call. They seem to have a slightly higher pitched one for airborne enemies.
Edgar was sleeping innocently on the couch, so not the cause of the ruckus this time.
But I did glimpse a raccoon’s tail disappearing under the neighbour’s fence. It must have gone to sleep there, because Marvin and Mavis kept up their protest for several hours.
I guess one of the signs that you’ve truly become a “crazy crow lady” is when the ceaseless sound of cawing (which is, objectively, quite annoying after an hour or more) becomes a source of fascination.
Here is Marvin making his point. It’s impressive, for a solo effort.
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But listen how, when Mavis joins in, they cooperate to create a continuous wall of sound. Eat your heart out Phil Spector.
Mavis seems to time her calls to fill every gap in Marvin’s sequence, so that they truly do sound like a flowing river of corvid fury.
The other interesting part of the performance was the incredible number of dynamic shapes they cut against the sky.
Marvin would pace theatrically along the neighbour’s washing line — sometimes struggling to combine keeping balanced with the vocal effort. Rather like trying to sing opera while tight rope walking, I should imagine.
If the story the crows wrote against the sky with their nest building silhouettes was one of peace and tranquility (see Crow Calligraphy) — this more recent essay would be on the subjects of fear, fury and determination.
Mind you, in the middle of all of this, there was time for a bit of curiosity and play. Something at the top of the washing line pole would occasionally distract Marvin from his ranting. Periodic moments of blissful silence would ensue, before he’d remember his sacred mission and pick up the protest.
So, fear, fury, determination … with a side order of comedy.
I enjoyed the energy of the performance so much, that I decided to use one of the pictures from that day as part of the cover for the 2019 City Crow Calendar I’m now working on.
Somehow it seems to capture a lot of all that is “crow.”
Later that day, raccoon finally decided to move on and peace was restored.
Here’s a more relaxed Marvin that evening, taking in the view from his favourite power line pole. The nest and the distant North Shore mountains all within view, no predators around for a moment — time to let go of all that raccoon stress.