The Crow’s Shows & Pose

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Good Evening:

I like crows and ravens. True, they have little in the way of gaudy colors or feathers; I like them for their intelligence and resourcefulness. So when I disembarked from the 71-Noriega at the last stop (Ocean Beach) and discovered that Muni had run fast and I had arrived half an hour early for my friend’s “table reading” (very early drafts of plays receive these private shows–no acting, just reading the script in one’s living room, sometimes around a table), I went looking for something to photograph and found a crow exploring an uncovered rusty trash can near the beach. Using that marvelous beak (corvid beaks are the Bowie Knives of bird beaks–they can do anything), it deftly pried open a discarded KFC box with a delicate motion, plucked a chicken leg bone that still had a meal’s worth of meat, and flew to a nearby post.

Since the bird had selected a post with a marvelous background, I had to take pictures. It did not appreciate my appreciation of its beauty; it thought I wanted its dinner.

Crow Defending Its Dinner with Show of Aggression

This was one of many shows of defiance, intended to warn me away from his prize. But then something changed in the crow. It stopped acting belligerent and held still. Like this:

The Crow’s Pose

As you can see, that background really is perfect for a crow. But check out this bird! It held still for me as I snapped one picture after another, kept its head held high, and didn’t even ruffle a feather. It did not move at all until after I walked away, when it flew off to feast in private on another bird’s leg.

How did it know I meant it no harm? How did it know that I wanted it to hold still? Did this critter recognize my silvery Nikon as a camera? Was it posing for me??

Pondering Avian Mysteries, I Remain,

Yours Truly,

Vonn Scott Bair

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6 responses »

  1. If you ever find yourself in Tokyo wanting to photograph the crows there be warned. They have an incredible ability to fly off as you are pressing the shutter. I found if you give them something very small to eat they stick around for more. Be aware that people are discouraged from feeding them.

    They are also huge, almost the size of a raven.

    • N.N.: One thing that San Francisco crows do, and it might be universal, is that they engage in activities that look similar to human play. We must never attribute human motives or behaviors to other animals, but some crows here take advantage of our winds to indulge in aerial tumblings and other flights that seem to have no logical explanation (i.e., food, attracting mates, et cetera).

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