Updated May 4, 2017.
A murder of crows ruled like feudal lords over our newly acquired untamed wilderness. Even the birds of prey circling above gave high altitude to the tyrants.
The only creatures allowed to poach the crows’ domain were wasps, flies, mosquitoes, moles, mice, bull frogs, snakes and coyotes. The pillaged, parched plot was an ugly, harsh place--a blight slapped in the middle of a spectacular cedar forest.
To Dodger, lover of the outdoors and all things wild, it was heaven on earth!
We conquered nest upon nest of wasps: Yellow Jackets, digger and potter wasps, black and yellow mud daubers, and Pacific Northwest Paper wasps of various varieties.
Dodger did his part and conquered the snakes. We took on clouds of flies and mosquitoes.
Dodger dug into the moles. We fought the disease together. The pall of death ravaging the land slowly receded . . . ,
. . . except for the savage crows. Their sovereignty reigned supreme.
The black emissaries, Dodger and the crows, dueled over feasts, frolics and nesting grounds. It was a snarling, snapping, fur flying, feather curling feud lasting two long years (twenty-four cat years, who knows how many crow years).
Regaled like knights in shiny plumage and luxurious fur, the prowess and courage of each foe were admirable.
All entreaties for negotiation were rejected. The murder of crows made it undeniably clear: usurpers were “supper” in their kingdom. The war raged on, guerrilla tactics engaged.
One beautiful autumn afternoon, I picnicked on the stoop overlooking the back yard. Dodger trotted up the path, parading his latest trophy. I went out to meet him. Purring proudly, he dropped his prize at my feet, anticipating reward for his fealty.
With silent stealth from nearby trees, a crow swooped in like an eagle. Talons out, he seized the trophy.
Surprised, but always battle ready, Dodger turned on the crow, spearing the trophy with his sharp claws.
His master plan foiled, the crow cleverly curled his wings and tugged the trophy free.
The ground battle raged on.
End for end they rolled and pummeled, Dodger, occasionally snatching the crow from the air and slamming him into the ground.
Sometime during the mêlée, the bedraggled "trophy" crawled off, escaping into the shadowy shrub row.
Changing tactics, the crow took the battle to the air.
Undaunted, Dodger wound up and launched himself, springing into the crow’s back like a cowboy swings into a saddle from the rear. He wrestled to control the airborne crow.
They flew across the yard, the crow bucking the air, climbing higher and higher.
Momentarily shaken by the turbulence, Dodger yowled as the ground shrunk away beneath him.
Mustering his courage, he hunkered down, pressing close by wrapping his limbs around the blackguard.
The maneuver put the bird into a tailspin.
Fear choked my throat as I watched them tumble from the sky.
Two feet from the ground, Dodger bailed out.
The crow crashed landed, flipping onto his back, wings spread, but intact. Clearly spent, the crow was defenseless.
Dodger stood a few feet away, haggard. His eyes bored into his enemy.
Heaving a ragged sigh, the feathered warrior carefully dragged himself to his feet. Conceding the war, he gingerly walked off the battlefield.
Dodger looked on, rolling his aching shoulders before turning away to tiredly stalk the shadows for his lost trophy.
Their dictatorship broken, the murder of crows retreated to the forest’s edge. To this day they live peacefully beside the other wildlife currently inhabiting our paradise.
Dodger, his black mane carefully fluffed, routinely roams his kingdom with pride. He rules with a firm, but wise hand, maintaining a harmonious balance where his subjects and their families thrive and grow.
This is a true tall tale. Dodger really put the murder of crows in their place, and he really did tangle with a crow as large as himself.
I'll never forget the sight!
Dodger shot across the yard, leaped onto the crow's back and hung on for all he was worth as the bird took flight. That the crow could sustain any altitude while they fought in the air was amazing, let alone Dodger's unbelievable ability to hang on and wrestle at the same time.
He deliberately bailed off from about 3 feet high, pulling the crow to the ground with him. They tussled until the crow freed himself.
Bedraggled and badly beaten, the crow dragged himself off the battlefield and into the brush.
Dodger has never had to enforce his boundary with the murder of crows since.
This last weekend, I took a walk along the forest-lined dirt road leading to our cabin. When I heard crows cawing overhead I smiled to myself, remembering this black cat short story.
More and more cawing.
Still more cawing.
I peered into the sky. Many crows perched on tall tree tops and among the branches were puffed up and warming themselves in the sun after surviving three weeks of freezing fog.
After a time, I realized this murder of crows, 15 to 20, were calling out to each other.
A few crows flew across the road to join their friends. Then, a few more flew over.
I began counting the crows and as I was counting, a few more crows would fly over to join the gang. The cawing grew louder as the population grew. 50. . . 60. . . 70. . . 80. . . .
Suddenly, I became alarmed. Remember the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds? Now you know what was going through my mind. 90. . . 120. . . 149. . . .
That's when I lost count because the crows began flying over more than two or three at a time.
Earlier in the story when I mentioned a "murder of crows", I was indicating a family of 6 or 8 crows. I truly had no idea that our area was home to over 200 crows (and still more flying over).
My admiration for Dodger has multiplied a thousand times.
For the record, the crows were clearly having a bird party to celebrate the sunshine and posed no threat to me.