Your article “How to keep crows off your lawn” of May 11 (in the print edition of The Telegram) conveys the impression that you should do everything you can to keep crows out of your garden, even to the extent of sowing a crow-hostile lawn seed.
Our own experience of crows in our garden suggests there is a better route to go: befriend them! We had seen an award-winning documentary on crow intelligence, showing that this bird is not only extremely intelligent but that it has been filmed using a short stick to extract a piece of bread located inside a cage. We started to pay attention when four of them decided to take over the bird-feeder in our back garden in Portugal Cove — something most people might of course not appreciate, according to the article referred to above.
We quickly discovered that after placing out food, a single local crow would make a call to alert the others. Within minutes all four of them were emptying the feeder. As a professional linguist and handy mimic, I (David) soon learned to speak “crow,” mastered the food call and now was able to call them at will. They would sometimes reply from half a mile away (as the crow flies) and would be there in 30 seconds. It was a great solution for all unwanted scraps. They were too cautious to allow me to stand outside the back door and watch them.
On one occasion a neighbour sent over a big piece of gooey, bright blue and orange layer cake — not exactly to our taste, so out it went to the feeder and I could put my well-mastered crow-call to good use. Within minutes all four of them had sunk their whole beaks into the cake, gobbled it up and then, to our horror, taken off straight in the direction of our neighbour's garden — where she might or might not have been puttering around — and landed on her lawn. Crikey! Blimey and my oh my!
What also intrigues us about these birds is their role in folklore history. They have been hated and feared in all history. Their solid shiny black colour has not helped.
Together with the raven they reign supreme in history as the apotheosis of evil and as representatives of the devil. It looks as if they may have only survived so successfully on account of their rare intelligence. So don’t stone ’em — just wear a little crow feather on your little black dress or baseball cap or fedora.
David and Grace Artiss,