June 23, 2022
It’s Thursday, and welcome to yet another episode of As the Bird Feeder Turns. Just one more, because I have to tell you what I saw yesterday.
First of all, a little background. For several years now, we’ve been gifted with the presence of a crow that hops on one leg. I don’t know what happened to the other leg, but he still manages to do pretty well for himself with just the one. I get immensely happy every time I see him and know he’s still out there. (I realize there may be multiple limping crows, but I prefer to think of them as one.)
Yesterday I spotted a pair of crows beneath the feeder. At first, it looked like a big one was attacking a smaller one, and I thought well I am not ready to handle this today. But I looked again and realized this was not at all an act of aggression. The bigger of the two was using his beak to very gently, tenderly groom the other crow’s neck feathers. Occasionally he’d use his beak to nudge his friend’s head this way or that way, or to raise his head just a little bit higher.
I had never seen this before. A quick Google search confirmed that this was, in fact, grooming—also called allopreening—and that crows will do this during courtship to strengthen the bond of the pair.
Our romantic interlude was interrupted when a noisy red-winged blackbird swooped down onto the feeder right above them. The pair moved apart and tried to act casual. But as they did so, I noticed that the smaller crow, the one being groomed by its new mate? It was hopping.
“I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.”
See you tomorrow,
p.s.—This story is 100% true.