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Thursday, March 9, 2017

The "As The Crow Flies" Story

It was an ordinary day.  A very unusual day due to the high temperatures we have experienced in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania this winter.  Only twice this winter have I had to clean the snow off the wooden sidewalks and both times it was only about an inch deep.  I won't say I don't enjoy the fact that we haven't been inundated with the white stuff, but I know many people rely on snow to earn a living in the winter.  With Lancaster having a latitude of 40.044437 degrees, winter days in the 50s and even the low 60s are rare, but we have been blessed, in my estimation, with quite a few of those days this year.  
The sleek-looking black crow
Today has been one of those days, mild with a slight breeze coming from the west, and as I sat in my recliner at 7:38 pm watching "Jeopardy", I was startled by the loud "boom" outside my family room window.  "What was that?" I said to my wife.  Before she had a chance to respond, it happened again.  And then again. "I'll bet those are the cannons going off at Park City Mall," she said to me.  Every fall, one of our local shopping malls, Park City Center, fires miniature cannons to try to persuade the crow population, that happens to arrive every fall on their way to ... I haven't the faintest idea where, to leave the mall area where they bomb the customers and splatter their latest meal over the cars parked in the lot.  Usually they leave and find their way to ... my neighborhood which is about a mile from the the shopping center.  
Crows gather in my walnut trees next to my home.
The American crow is one of America's best known bird.  They are fairly large, compared to other local birds, and do make a mess on the driveway and at times on the siding of the house, but they are an interesting bird.  I love their sleek color, their call and find they are a fairly intelligent bird.  Read that they can count to three or four, are good at solving puzzles, have good memories and can associate various noises and symbols with food.  That explains why they gather on our barren walnut trees when they hear and see me fill up the bird feeders.  But they almost always disappear when the weather report indicates severe cold weather.  
At our local Manheim Township Public Library was
recently held the 3rd Annual "All-Crow" Community
Art Show.  This piece of art is titled "Poe" and
was nominated for "Best In Crow" award.
And, that is why they are still in the neighborhood.  I got to know crows very well when I went to see Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" in 1963.  Most everyone hated crows after that movie.  Well, Lancaster has been trying to coax the crows to move on by a variety of methods over the past couple of years.  Back in 2004 Lancaster's method of eliminating the crows was to poison them.  Four townships backed the move until they realized that the dead crows were ending up in elementary school playgrounds.  It was also the same time when bald eagles were making a comeback in Lancaster County and the eagles were eating the dead carcasses and dying.  
As part of the show, "Haiku", a traditional form of Japanese
poetry may be submitted.  Haiku poems consist of 3 lines.  The
first and last lines have 5 syllables while the middle line has
7 syllables.  The lines rarely rhyme.  In this case they deal with crows. 
Plus the fact that the poison was being spread on farmland which in turn went into the watershed which ended in our drinking water.  Eventually the Lancaster Crow Coalition formed and has slowly succeeded in the humane displacement of crows to less urban areas.  I must admit that over the past ten or more years I have learned so much about crows and their idiosyncrasies and nuances.  I really don't mind their noisy talk in my walnut trees or the white blotches on my driveway, since I know they are only passing through and will be gone as fast as they arrive.  All except this year when the weather has been extremely mild.  Hope global warming doesn't spoil my acceptance of the crows!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

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