Crows nest in the wood opposite our house but this year a pair choose one of the oak trees in our communal garden. From our back bedroom window I can see them building their nest as the leaves aren’t properly out. That nest soon disappears into the green.
There’s not much evidence of them, or the serious business of nurturing a family, for a while. Until now that is, when the adults – I make the assumption these are the same pair – are often swaggering bow-legged across the grass, probing for food as they go. If I come out into the garden, they stop what they’re doing and watch me speculatively. They’re also watching the squirrels. Any squirrel having the gall to start up the trunk of the nest tree is quickly chased off.
I notice they’re completely and fearlessly intolerant of the foxes too, the ones which like to use the slope along the back of the houses as a regular highway. I watch hourly crow-fox battles. When the crows are on the ground, the foxes wait at one end of the highway to see if they’ve been spotted. If they decide to chance it, the crows swoop down on them aggressively. Some foxes jumps into the air jaws snapping but they’re all seen off one way or the other.
A month and a half after the nest building started, I hear an extraordinary noise coming through our back window. Not a ‘caw’, but more an ‘aaargh’ with an undertone of neediness. One adult is probing the grass while two fledglings pester him or her for food. They are noticeably different from the adult in size and shape – smaller, slimmer and without the full-on glossy feathers, as yet. When they’re not begging, the crow teenagers are often mooching on a roof ridge or tv aerial, picking at the downy baby feathers on their breasts. That ‘aaargh’ sound penetrates the windows all round the house for a few days but just as I start to get used to it, they’re gone.
I might actually get some work done now, or at least until I’m interrupted by one of our teenagers. But you’ve got to love a crow.