EVERYONE HAS A crow story. I know, because I’ve read them all.
At least, that’s how it felt as I sorted through my inbox after our cover story on crows was published this summer (“Crows might pose a challenge or two, but their intelligence and humanlike complexity resonate with Seattle like nowhere else,” June 7). It was, I have to say, the most unusual assignment of my career, and one that elicited some of the most creative and unexpected reactions.
I received dozens and dozens of emails from readers sharing their own interactions with crows. Many sent pictures of their “pet” crows feeding on their decks. One amateur photographer from West Seattle showed off a series of action shots of his valiant neighborhood crows’ daring midair entanglements with a bald Eagle. Three readers shared original haikus inspired by crows.
One haiku in particular caught my attention:
feeding crows oyster crackers
homeless in the park .
Patricia wrote that in the spring of 2014, and she shared it with me this summer. I was touched, and not surprised, to learn that haiku won a first-place prize (a $10 store gift card) in a creative writing contest from Half Price Books in Bellevue.
Patricia had befriended crows at Bellevue’s Crossroads Park at a difficult time in her life. She was living out of her car, and in the process of tossing crumbs out the vehicle one day, she drew a crowd of crows. As she put it, “What began basically as ‘garbage disposal’ of uneaten snacks wound up becoming a passion.” She fed the crows every day, and she felt a connection to them. She experimented with different types of snacks, eventually settling on oyster crackers because the crows liked them and, well, they were cheap to buy in bulk.
By the end of 2014, Patricia found a new home at a senior living center in Bremerton. She made new friends at a nearby park, too. Unfortunately, those crows began to follow her back to the complex, which prompted complaints from other residents. Patricia was asked to stop feeding the crows. “I was heartbroken,” she wrote.
She stopped feeding them but did continue her long walks to observe the crows. She also toyed with writing about her homeless experiences with the crows. The working title: “Oyster Crackers: A Memoir.” Now that’s a crow story I can’t wait to read.