Some days seem harder than others. It’s November — with still more than a month to go before the winter solstice, when the light (slowly, slowly) begins to turn the tide against the dark.
It’s cold, dark and generally miserable. We’re in the middle of pandemic that looks set to get worse before it gets better . . . so, yes, this week seems particularly grim.
Keeping exclusively to our tiny household groups can make things a bit lonely. It’s certainly not a time to be getting out there and expanding your social circles.
Unless, of course, you’re looking to add some crows to your support group.
The benefits are many — in good times and bad.
I’ve written about my Crow Therapy theory before, but I thought a little pandemic re-cap might be in order.
Not worrying about how crazy the neighbours might think you are is a bit of prerequisite for longer conversations with your local crows.
I imagine more of us may be at this point now than we were at the start of the year.
I often compare notes with Marvin and Mavis on how our respective years are going.
I know they’ve had a rough 2020, losing their entire tree territory overnight this summer and, in spite of building at least three nests this spring, having no surviving fledglings to show for all that hard work.
Consequently, it’s hard to say who’s sympathizing with who when I tell them about the latest political and pandemic news.
Nothing really surprises them any more.
Although sometimes . . .
If you don’t feel ready for fully fledged conversations with crows just yet, they also appreciate a simple generic greeting as you pass by, delivered in a suitably appreciative tone.
Of course, you may not feel ready to engage in any degree of chatting with crows (yet)— and this is perfectly fine.
The benefits of paying attention to crows can also be experienced from a discreet distance.
If you watch them every day, through the whole year, you’ll start see seasonal behaviour patterns. There will be lots of tender allopreening in the weeks before they start nesting, building that pair bond for the hard work ahead. There may also be some local skirmishes as they stake out nest territory. Then there’s the lovely “flying with twigs” period as they start construction.
Next, the nesting females will disappear completely for a while, hidden as they incubate the eggs. By early summer it’s the time of baby crows, with some dive bombing of unwary pedestrians as parent crows try to protect their flight incompetent fledglings. A summer of noisily begging baby crows and increasingly exhausted parents ensues. The end-of-summer moulting season blends into raucous fall behaviour, gradually quietening into winter, as new crows learn the rules of etiquette and everyone settles into their usual territory and predicable habits.
One of the main purposes of my annual City Crow Calendar is to give a small sense of this lovely pattern of parallel lives going on through the seasons — although, rest assured, it does also have dates and the usual calendar stuff in it too!
Observing this cycle of life has been especially grounding this year when so many human habits and expectations have been upended.
I heard my son telling a friend on the phone today about a lovely dream he had last night — of being at a party. It’s so sad that simple parties are currently the stuff of dreams. It’s not an exact substitute, but you can safely soak up a rave-like atmosphere by observing your local crow roost any night of the week.
While scouring the stressful news seems unavoidable this year, I do find it helpful to have the alternative narrative of what’s happening in my local crow world running in my mind. It’s a refreshing channel change to look at the world from their point of view — and there are truly plenty of compelling stories going on out there.
Stay tuned for some of the latest from the CrowFlix in coming posts …
I know — pretty gripping, right?
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