Sunday, June 06, 2010


The observation of the local urban wildlife has long been a fascination and I even wrote a story about it in the now defunct LA CityBeat that, in turn, actually got me hired on at the LA Times as an occasional op-ed columnist. (But then I was dropped for my shameless leftwing bias.) In my street alone, we have possums, raccoons, scary tree rats, and one time, in the dead of night, a pair of coyotes loped by like two Viet Cong during Tet. Over in Laurel Canyon you can add deer, bobcats, and hawks. Indeed, at one July 4th barbeque, I saw a hawk alight on a tree branch with a snake struggling in its beak. The other guests paid it little mind, but, as a classicist, I though it a dire omen for America. (You be the judge.)For some years now, the crows have owned my street, running off the doves and blue jays, and even demanding tribute from the squirrels. They would squire it in the dawn, eyeing the prtevious night's beer cans as possible tools, and shooting me looks as I watched from my balcony that clearly said, “If I had an opposable thumb, human motherfucker, your species would be toast.” But lately the crows have somehow lost their absolutist sway. As if it was some grim episode of The Sopranos, their power has waned. The doves are back, the humming birds work the provided feeder, and the squirrels have grown bold. The crows haven’t departed but their sass has diminished, and I’m unsure of what it might mean.

(Drawing by the late and still lamented Edward Barker)

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Anonymous said...

You need a "print this page" option. This post is a keeper.

Mick said...

Thanks for the kind comment. I kinda weaned myself off the concept of paper as permanence. Maybe cut, paste and print would do it?

slinkymalinky said...

Meanwhile the little car park behind the block of flats I live in has been invaded by pigeons - crows don't really get a look in. Was awoken the other morning by a pair of pigeons who had wandered in through my open window and were sat on the windowsill. Question: does bicarb of soda really make pigeons explode?

Timmy said...

All kidding aside, kids, I agree with the first commentor, here. I don't however, think the "omen" was an omen at all. It's just another day at the races. For years, now, I challenge crows, or ANY other bird that attacks the serenity of my neighborhood. If awoken by a loud annoying squaking, I will, if time-given, get the hell outta bed, follow the sound & throw a heavy enough orange or rock at the winged loud mouth. This proves to be a warning to ALL the species. After a few days of this, they get the message & it don't happen no mo'. We are all STILL beasts upon this vanishing Earth. Let's behave like one. Get back to basics. Peace in domination, I say.

hipspinster said...

"paid it little mind"? as a host of that BBQ, my recollection is we were all pretty fascinated by the hawk-with-snake.

which is not to say you weren't quite taken with it. i'm too wary of crows to adopt timmy's MO, but i do concur on the day at the races point. i even wrote in a blog post a few days after the aforementioned bbq: "then when we were hanging out yesterday, [the doc] was trying to recall specific historical instances in which a bird of prey capturing a snake was considered a bad omen. and the idea that rulers of whatever ancient world you wanna think about actually called in their soothsayers and puzzled over the 'meaning' of a raptor doing its natural thing, as though it were a sign from the gods, made me laugh a bitter laugh."

Anonymous said...

ah yes them crows.. at spring time they are ferociously protecting nests from any perceived threat in a 50 yard radius (or more) of their nest.
The adults lose their sass once the offspring are about.
The only omen is there are going to be more of them stroppy buggers about next year.