By Barbara Platt
Editor’s note: Long-time Our Town writer Vince Teresi was so taken by this piece by his friend Barbara Platt that he wanted us to share it with our readers.
Sometime ago, I had a special visitor that started coming into the backyard every day. This new acquaintance of mine usually searched for his snacks about the time that I prepared a meal. So, I was given ample opportunity to study him on the walkway outside the kitchen window where he often observed me, too.
This crow’s distinctive appearance was due to his (or her?) exceptionally large size. All other birds seen from my vantage point were dwarfed by comparison. When this uncoordinated creature bent down over his plump belly to take in nourishment, it occurred to me that he could easily topple over, drive his beak firmly into the ground and be stuck in that awkward position indefinitely!
When walking, those spindly legs jerked him slightly from side-to-side while moving forward with the gait of a silent screen player. Although wobbly in step, a loss of balance never became a concern. It was evident that nature had provided unique protection to allow for these discrepancies.
While viewing the crow, his unsociable behavior became apparent. The smaller birds tried to engage this unfriendly fellow in their comical antics, but he refused to take part. Occasionally, they displayed their frustration by chasing and crashing into him, resulting in a swift jostling of feathers and shrill protests. Immediately following such episodes, these fierce combatants were forced off his domain.
Squirrels invited this loner to perform in their high-wire acts on a favorite telephone line while chipmunks did their utmost to coax him into a frisky game of tag. He also was encouraged by all of them to participate in their numerous pranks but to no avail. Meanwhile, a raccoon family residing high above the ground in an oak tree seemed quite amused by the theatrics of those whimsical entertainers below.
The crow’s uncooperative attitude often caused him to be a target of various mischievous acts and regarded as an outsider on his own turf. Early on, newcomers were warned by regular visitors to avoid this reclusive character.
Toward the end of my friend’s stay, he made a surprising entrance into the yard with another crow. It was shocking to realize that this was the standoffish bird I had come to know. All creatures that had been frequenting the neighborhood were astonished at his miraculous change of heart.
Sharp-eyed furry faces peeked through the flowers of hanging baskets, from inside vacated nests and behind strands of ivy to watch the event secretively. This important guest was given a tour of the grounds by a most cordial host, pausing along the way to enjoy some samples of nature’s bounty.
They took a refreshing dip and drink at a nearby pond where they encountered a fastidious hummingbird washing off the sticky remains of a tasty nectar treat. After being given some terrific travel tips, these two comrades disappeared from sight to follow another adventure. I wondered if the new companion would become part of my outdoor menagerie, but it eventually became obvious that this scenario was not going to happen.
One morning I noticed a mother duck with her ducklings strolling back and forth on the walkway in front of my window. Whenever she decided to change direction, the young ducks turned in unison with military precision to follow her lead. However, I was not the only one to witness the exercise. The crow, a short distance away, remained focused on this activity but graciously accepted them on his home ground. At the same time, he was watchful of any unexpected intruders that might disturb their routine.
Within a brief period of time, one of the raccoons that had been residing nearby in their family oak tree clumsily plodded across the lawn directly toward the flock of ducks, causing them to scatter in fear. The crow immediately deterred the inquisitive neighbor from advancing any further by rapidly encircling it and furiously flapping his wings non-stop. Rather than endure such humiliation, this unwanted invader made a quick exit to the satisfaction of all.
Once the small brigade of ducks had left, this impressive bird hastened back to his favorite vantage point on the walkway outside the kitchen window, making certain all was clear and that nothing else could interfere with our visual communication.
As spring surrendered to summer, my special visitor made his last appearance. On that occasion, he approached the window and gazed at me for an extended period of time. This final gesture seemed to indicate that the moment had arrived for him to move on. So, without further hesitation, this extraordinary crow slowly turned away, spread his wings and soared into a rainbow-streaked sky… never to return.
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