In her book Crow Planet, Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness, local Seattle author Lyanda Lynn Haupt mentions several times that almost everyone she talks to has a “crow story” to share. Here is mine:
When my daughter was a newborn we were outside on our backyard rocker one September day while my son was at preschool. Jenna had just finished nursing, and we were both drifting off into sleep when I noticed a crow perched on a nearby cedar tree watching us. About ten minutes later, I woke up to a horrible screeching sound. That same crow was going nuts! The reason for his disturbance proved to be a giant raccoon that was ambling across the patio, ten feet away from me and my sleeping baby.
At the time, it sincerely felt like the crow was trying to protect us. In retrospect, I can see that I was probably hopped up on hormones and brain-addled by lack of sleep. That crow was probably trying to protect his territory, not my baby. Right?
I have spent countless hours observing the crows in our Pacific Northwest backyard ever since, which is why Crow Planet was especially appealing to me. Haupt writes about her experience learning to appreciate the zoopolis in her own urban neighborhood. She also (briefly) describes some of the ways that she teachers her own daughter to study nature, especially the identification of house spiders.
Reading Crow Planet has confirmed what I already knew about the crows in my own backyard. They are keenly intelligent, recognize my family members, and are permanent fixtures in my life. But are they also our personal security system? I’ll have to grab my binoculars and get back to you on that one.