In “Caw of the Wild,” in the February issue of Adirondack Life, on newsstands now, Paul Smith’s College professor Curt Stager writes:
Adirondackers who love ravens and crows are cautiously optimistic. For the most part, life is good for “corvids” (members of the family Corvidae) up here in the North Country, and their numbers and ranges have been swelling in recent decades.
… Once, they scavenged wolf kills; now ravens cruise the highways for roadkill. Smart, agile and adaptable, they avoid oncoming traffic with the skill of toreadors. Here on the Paul Smith’s College campus, ravens are so used to people and vehicles that they sometimes rip the soft rubber from windshield wiper blades—perhaps for nesting material—and I’ve seen one pilfer a sandwich from the back of a pickup truck while the owner was occupied in a nearby office. The willingness of these icons of northern wilderness to treat people like two-legged wolves and share our civilized landscapes may seem surprising, but I prefer to see it as a reminder that we are as much a part of nature as any other species.
For evidence of corvids’ friendly relationship with humans, look no further than the above video of Stager treating his favorite neighborhood crow to a rendition of “Blackbird.” Stager explained the back-story in an email:
Birdie fell out of the nest in May or June some years back. His parents stayed around and welcomed him back into their family when he fledged several months later.
He always loved the guitar, both the sound of it and the fun of climbing around on it. He also liked to pull daisies apart, petal by petal. In the video, he got to enjoy both of those things—a black bird pulling a daisy apart while sitting on my black Gibson guitar to the tune of McCartney’s “Blackbird.”
We did confirm, by the way, that he was a “he” by asking a colleague to analyze the chromosomes in a tissue sample from a feather of his that fell off one day. When I got the verdict, I put a note on the door to greet my wife, Kary, when she got home from work… “It’s A Boy!”
Although we have no way of knowing if Birdie is still alive in the wild, the family clan of crows that he belonged to is definitely still here on campus. But no matter where we go, every crow that we see is Birdie to us.