Crows create an impression

On Monday morning, shadows of white pines were stretched far across the lake’s fresh snow and the sky was a startling blue once more, except for a raven that soared gracefully, grumbling its low call.
This raven has kept us company all winter, and feeds on the occasional deer carcass left by the resident wolf pack.
New these past few weeks, however, is a pair of American Crows. They visit our yard several times a day, and I’m learning why this smaller cousin of the raven is the “black sheep” of the crow family.
Their high-pitched vocals interrupt the liquid song of the small birds, and they prowl as sneakily as bank robbers as they learn new ways to get at the compost and bird seed.
It’s this kind of secret and human-like behaviour I’ve always found fascinating. Crows are much smarter than other birds (except for perhaps the raven and the parrot), and even are capable of using tools, if needed, to help them get food.
They also are naturally curious, and the American Crow—being less shy than the raven—is occasionally tamed.
In fact, as told by my father, many years ago there were children in Emo who befriended a crow they called “Ebenezer,” after the first name of the “Scrooge” character in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Dickens’ “Ebenezer” is shrewd, with a pointed nose, red eyes, thin blue lips, and a grating voice. Therefore, “Ebenezer” was a very suitable name for a brash, dark, and unusual pet.
Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, however, the crow stayed true to its character. As the story goes, the bird was always curious. As the children explored the river, walked along the railroad tracks, or played baseball, the crow was always there—landing softly along the treetops, keeping its hard eyes fixed.
It even accompanied the children to school. However, mysteriously, “Ebenezer” was not around during recess. Or so they thought.
It wasn’t until after a few days of disruption that they learned the truth. Each day they’d return to their neat rows of desks to find themselves baffled by an unknown thief.
“My pen is gone!” said one.
“So is mine!” said others.
“Who is stealing?” asked one more.
No one knew “Ebenezer” was sneaking in through the open window until the principal announced what the caretaker found behind the woodpile—a prized loot of pens, neatly “scrooged” away.
So I thought about this story from long ago as I paid particular attention to the pair of crows watching me. Every time I moved, so do these sleek, knowing birds–full of intention compared to the bobbing and tweeting chickadees and nuthatches.
Then, with a couple of hops, they were off again, so bold against the brightness.
The sun was heightened, the shadows gone, and only a sense of fleeting time remained.

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