OUR BLACK FRIENDS
This morning there were several noisy crows outside the livingroom window. In the half-dark of a foggy dawn they called to each other from the trees behind the houses and from the eaves of neighboring buildings.
I've always found the presence of numerous crows remarkable; I had not seen so many till I returned to California years ago - crows are not very common in densely packed Netherlandish towns.
Once, as the car turned into the parking lot of our office in Palo Alto, an eagle clutching a dead rabbit swooped low over the asphalt, pursued by a tribe of angry crows who wanted his breakfast. Their parking lot, their nesting grounds, ergo their dead rabbit. Now hand it over, thief!
Several years ago I remember two crows coming upon pigeons worrying a still-sealed bag of cookies at the bus stop in front of our building.
Calmly they landed, strolled over to the frantic smaller birds, and shooed them away. They had the tools to open the bag, they were big, dark, and dignified - it just stood to reason that they would dine first. Though vastly outnumbered they were confident that the others would see it their way.
They were right.
Ten minutes later the pigeons were permitted to squabble over the crumbs, as two visibly fatter black presences lumbered into the air, to perch replete on a nearby window sill.
About a year ago a crow landed a few yards ahead of me, giddy at having spotted both a nice piece of pizza and some fresh furry roadkill. Once it was clear to the bird that I wasn't interested in these delicacies, it had to decide which to "play with" first. It frantically hurried back and forth between them, perhaps worried that some other creature might lay a claim. Then it cut the Gordian knot by simply picking up the roadkill, carrying it over, and carefully placing it on top of the pizza.
When I got to my front door I looked back, and saw that a companion had arrived. They ate together like old friends, stepping around the banquet for a better pecking angle without getting in each other's way or blocking access to the feast.
They vocalized while they ate. A sort of low contented gurgling. It may have been small talk.
That evening I forewent supper - I envied those two their cozy picnic.