Of crows and women.

I have always referred to Crow as “him” or “he” but have been getting more and more convinced that she is, in fact; a girl.

This seemed more likely as Candlemas rolled around and she immediately went into nesting mode. She refuses to come out of her cage in the morning, but instead tears up all the paper which I use to line the bottom of her house and heaps it into an untidy nest. She has also lost all interest in feeding herself and begs titbits from me every time I walk past. If I don’t walk past – or indeed if I am in a different room – then she simply calls loudly every half hour or so until I come and scratch her head and talk to her.

She has a very peculiar call which she uses a lot these days if she is feeling neglected. It is somewhat like a duck crossed which a kookaburra! I have no idea if this is standard crow language. I have never heard a wild crow (or any bird) make this call before she came to live with me but then, I am not sure I would have noticed if they had. It is quite possible that she has learned it from Parrot or the dogs, and that it is merely a poor impression of one of them.

I have tried to record it so that I can send it to a proper ornithologist, but if she sees me with the recorder – my mobile phone – she immediately stops and instead spreads and shivers her wings, begging for attention.

When she came to me originally, I drove about sixty miles to pick her up from where she had found very temporary safety. Although I did not see her parents – or any crows – in the garden in which she was being held; as I drove out of the city I realised I was being followed by a couple of crows. They kept pace with the car. When I stopped, they perched on a lampost or in a tree or on a fence until I moved on again, so I had no doubt that she had relatives watching out for her.

I lost sight of them once I reached the motorway, and forgot about them anyway, to be truthful.

Sixty miles by car is not a long way as the crow flies however, and a few mornings after I had brought her back and was treating her for her multiple problems; I looked out of my kitchen window and saw a crow on the roof of my shed watching the house, looking remarkably like her, only this one was tidy. Crow has the worst feathers you can imagine, broken and tatty, with many of them missing. She has no tail feathers at all. I am hoping that when she moults this year they will come back lustrous and beautiful. I’m not sure that I will recognise her with a tail, however.

To humans, including myself; one crow looks pretty much like another. However, Crow; my girl, has two very distinct white patches on her back when her wings are folded. These patches are where there is a lack of pigment at the base of her flight feathers. The crow on my shed roof had the same white patches and I cannot imagine other than it was a sibling or parent of Crow.

I have also noticed that crows watch me when I am out with the dogs or otherwise since Crow came to live with me. Sometimes it seems that they are making themselves deliberately visible to me so that I notice them noticing me. They do nothing other than make me aware of their presence, and I rather like it. What they are thinking, I don’t know; but I have no doubt that the wild crows know that one of their kind lives with me.

This morning I had the strangest crow encounter of all. I had gone to an out of town supermarket in the car, and as I stood in the car park and before I went into the shop; I decided to ring my sister.

I stood facing over the road but wasn’t really looking as I chatted on the phone. I then gradually became aware of a crow in one of the naked, winter trees on the other side of the road. It appeared to be bowing as they do to other crows; but although I looked around and behind me I could see no other crow. I mentioned it to my sister, laughing; saying, “I think that a crow is bowing to me”. It certainly appeared to be looking at me. Although I said this, I did not really believe it and kept looking to see to whom it was displaying. To my huge surprise, the bird then flew over the road towards me and perching on a lampost above my head, looked distinctly at me, and as I gawped upwards, bowed again and then flew off.

I feel as though I have been blessed.