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Crows vs. Humans

So I've been asked to stop feeding the crows.

Well, sort of. This morning a woman knocked on the office door just after I arrived. She's a resident of the building (it's a condo building with offices on the ground floor) to ask if I'm the one putting out food and water (yes, I am) and is it for dogs or...? (it's for crows-- which she clearly knew.) 

She was quite polite, but her actual complaint about it kept changing, and it's kind of hard to argue with a moving target. First she mentioned the bird poop on the sidewalk; I pointed out that there is a line of TREES out front all overhanging the sidewalk, and birds, y'know, perch in trees. Then she shifted to talking about the color of the poop (which is apparently BRIGHT ORANGE, from the dog food I've been feeding them-- heh, oops.) Then she shifted to talking about how the water dish sometimes gets kicked around by pedestrians (I've always suspected stumbling drunks from the bar two doors down) and the food scattering looking messy.

When I made polite but noncomittal replies, she said something like:

"Oh well I could always talk with Joan about it if you won't, you know, the building manager."
Me: [managing not to laugh out loud at this implied threat]: "Oh, Joan knows I feed the crows. She's always known. She's never had a problem with it." (Joan's only stricture so far has been not to feed them any shelled nuts or seeds, as the shells/husks clog the gutters. I never have fed them anything like that, so she was fine with me feeding them crackers etc.)

I personally think it's ridiculous to care about the SIDEWALK. I've always been mystified by condo associations with rules like that, like the place I lived where you couldn't keep your bicycle on your balcony, because... it might look like someone is athletic? Or, heaven forbid, someone might think the resident isn't rich enough to afford a gym membership. :-P  But then I've never understood people who wash their cars regularly, either. Maybe it's from growing up in an area where it could literally rain on your nice car-washing job any minute, but making sure your car or sidewalk is shiny and clean has always seemed to me like taking a mop and some floor wax and polishing the road. 

ANYWAY. I did not tell the nice lady to go f* herself (not even in a euphemism) because I have to be here all day and I have to get along with these people, and also because I figured a compromise is probably better than her going to the condo association and having *them* tell me to stop. So when she started suggesting compromises, I agreed. I agreed to get another dish to put the food in, rather than scattering it all about, so it will look neater. I agreed to change what I'm feeding them so it's not BRIGHT ORANGE (and really, the orange poop *might* mean they're not fully digesting what I was feeding them, anyway-- I was just buying the cheapest thing I could carry). And I agreed to take the dishes inside the office when I go home for the day, so they don't get kicked around. We'll see if that helps.

While I was at the store buying a new dish and more food, it also occurred to me that I could agree to just clean the damn sidewalk. They have a person who comes every so often to do gardening and stuff, and someone who comes with a leaf blower, but they don't come every day, it's not really those people's job to clean up after what are basically my pets. I don't mind hosing down the sidewalk once a day if that works (and there's already a hose hooked up), and I just ordered an outdoor broom. So we'll see if that helps too.

At the moment the crows seem rather hilariously confused. They were just looking at the dishes and then at me, and then at the dishes and then at me, like WAIT THERE IS FOOD WHERE THE WATER WAS... WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO... UM... WATER IS OVER HERE NOW... EXPLAIN THIS, MONKEY.  (The grocery store only had smaller dog dishes, and I figured it'd be best to put food in the biggest one I have.) I went and put some hard boiled egg-- their favorite thing-- on top of the dog food in the dish, and that pretty much cleared up all confusion because OMG EGG EGG IS HERE I WANT EGG NOW.

It does mean I can't stop them from fighting as much; I was pouring food in several spots so that they wouldn't always be trying to keep each other out of it. But they were still fighting some, so that wasn't a very effective tactic anyway.

Such is the life of a servant of the crows. :)
Originally posted at


( what 18 dormice said — feed your head )
Sep. 19th, 2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
Sep. 19th, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
Step two: buy a mask that looks exactly like the woman in question. Then go to a nearby park, wear the mask, and start catching and otherwise offending all the crows.

The problem solves itself, eventually.
Sep. 19th, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC)
Or perhaps a wig approximating her hair color and style.
Sep. 19th, 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
No no, crows actually recognize faces. There was a big UW study that they did with masks (it was the whole reason I started feeding crows.)

They recognize me no matter what I do with my hair.
Sep. 19th, 2013 10:08 pm (UTC)
Ah hah. I wasn't sure if it was just faces. Crows are awesome. And they have correctly assessed that when I am driving back roads I don't want to make them move. : face palm: "Look! It's the slow human! Ah, we can take our time!"
Sep. 19th, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
After all, tasty raccoon waits for no one.
Sep. 19th, 2013 10:12 pm (UTC)
Have I mentioned how much more I love crows for reading your stories of them?
Sep. 19th, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
So she wanted you to feed them nevermore?

I'm glad you worked out a way to continue.
Sep. 20th, 2013 05:17 pm (UTC)
Sep. 20th, 2013 03:45 am (UTC)
I'm looking ahead to see who will star in the feature film.

I think it's good you're feeding crows. If they're not hungry, the small animals they kill might have a chance - of course, if your building starts getting lots of mice . . .
Sep. 20th, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, I doubt I'm making any noticeable difference in the small animal population. It's not as if I'm their only source of food, and I'm only here on weekdays (and some days not then). And there are about, oh, six crows I can reliably identify that come to where I feed them. (Crows are hugely territorial. I've noticed a couple of groups that try and keep each other away, and I think one group has recently won the turf war.)
Sep. 20th, 2013 04:51 am (UTC)
While I would suspect this doesn't apply to this lady, who is probably just being overly HOA style controlling, I would mention that bird poop on sidewalks is a problem for people with disabilities who need to use walkers or the like. You're going to pick up stuff anyway on your wheels, but I'd probably pretty annoyed if I kept having to clean off bird poo. (Which, given your comment about the trees near the sidewalk, sounds like it would be an issue regardless, so I'm not sure WTF with this woman. So sorry you had to deal with that.)
Sep. 20th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
Fair point! She, of course, didn't mention such a thing. She just kept saying over and over that it "looks messy" (her exact phrase.) It's also not very much. It also dries.

But, as noted, I'm going to try and clean it on a daily basis if I can.
Sep. 20th, 2013 02:12 pm (UTC)
I love reading of your adventures with crows. I've always liked corvids.
Sep. 20th, 2013 02:34 pm (UTC)
"What do you call two crows on a branch? Attempted murder."
Sep. 22nd, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
I find some people have very little concept of what living near other people entails. The woman in question is one of those who clearly wants everything to go her way. I'm very glad you've found some compromises that seem to be likely to work. That woman must have a very angry life if a bird pooping on the sidewalk outside of her building sours her day.
Sep. 23rd, 2013 05:21 pm (UTC)
Great that a solution was found!

I so appreciate hearing about your adventures with crows! I have a relationship with my local Stellar's Jays, but that's another story.

Many years ago I rented a beautiful old house with a big porch which hosted a swallow's nest every spring. I was careful not to disturb them while the young were raised. I loved the fact that they were there; it kept the mosquito population down. There is also an old tradition (heard from my grandmother long ago) that "a barn with a swallow's nest will never burn." Superstition? Sure, but it can't hurt.

One day I came home to find the nest down on the porch, with the baby birds dead. It was heartbreaking. I thought some young neighborhood hooligans had killed them, but soon learned that it was the landlord's doing. He didn't like the bird poop on the porch, but didn't even ask if I'd be willing to clean it up regularly. They were just nuisance vermin to him.

I gave my notice and moved out the next month. Didn't want to pay someone like that a single penny more. And I wasn't entirely sure about the fire risk after the swallows were gone (thanks, grandma).
Sep. 24th, 2013 10:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, hey. I wouldn't feed that cheap grocery-store dog food to a dog, let alone a crow. Costco has some stuff that's actually pretty decent. It's called Nature's Domain. Comes in Turkey and Salmon -- the Salmon is better for the Omega 3/6 balance, I'm told by my vet. I don't know anything about the dietary needs of crows vs. dogs, but I know this is a good-quality, well-balanced dog food that is also very reasonably priced (as long as you're fine with buying 35 or 40 pounds at a time). We were feeding it to all our dogs until the boys each developed special needs (allergies for one, pancreas trouble and the need for a very low-fat diet for the other). Our girl dog still gets it.

Oh, and it's a nice, friendly, dark-ish shade of brown. It should come out the other end in normal, non-flourescent poop colors.

Edited at 2013-09-24 10:15 pm (UTC)
( what 18 dormice said — feed your head )


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