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Hangry April 6, 2020 Feeding the wildlife

Part 1: What my crows like

I have a backyard flock, which is allowed, but usually around here they are chickens. I believe it is allowed to have two or three egg-layers, and people are trying to get rid of the roosters who crow contrary to the bylaws.

My free tree, a red maple, was large enough to attract squirrels a few years ago, as they could jump from across the street, where the mother maple lived.  But this year we got a family of crows.

Instead of scolding squirrels telling us to get out of their territory, this spring we got a family of four babies and two adult crows.  They talk to us as well. The parents say, “Caw, caw, caw, Wup!”

So I started saying “Wup!” in response.  Hubby went in to get his camera, and the parents and I were exchanging “Wups”” when he came back out. “Are you talking to them now?” he asked, and I said “Wup!”

Our city also has a new recycling protocol, where you divide garbage into cardboard/hard plastic, organics, and other. I decided to give the crow family the first go at the organics, in a place where our yard was denuded due to a recent renovation. A blank slate, no grass growing.

They like meat: ham, steak, chicken (no bones).  They do not like kale, red cabbage, or peas.  They like BBQd steak and baked potatoes with sour cream.

I had always wondered why crows jumped up to our eavestrough to look for food. Hubby said, “Maybe they are eating worms they dropped earlier.” That seemed unlikely to me.

The first time I left some yummy meat for my backyard flock, I saw a parent chase away the kids, then bring the food up to my neighbour’s new backyard evestrough and call the kids up to the roof to eat. Using it as a bowl, and safe.

The kids showed their red throats, Wup.

Part 2: The free tree

Late in summer, the free tree, which is growing beside/through the back fence grew large enough to buckle the fence and left a small gap, maybe four inches wide.

Part 3: The Russian Blue

In the fall, I kept feeding the crow family as I saw other crows nearby. Hubby and I had not seen them in the yard for a while. I Googled “crows, northwest BC” and saw that we live right on the border where some crows migrate and others overwinter.

Then one evening I saw a cat’s glowing eyes at the crow feast location. After the first snow, we could see the cat footprints were coming from the gap in the fence. It got cold, and I set up a cat carrier with blankets, then moved it to under the shed roof, then into a sheltered spot right beside the house.

Google to the rescue when I asked for “outdoor chicken warmer;” an image of a happy rabbit sitting on a warming pad appeared.

We set up a motion-activated trail cam and saw Outdoor Cat (aka Blue) resting on the warming pad, playing with the toy mouse on a string, and drinking from the outdoor heated watering bowl. And eating.

At first, fifteen feet was as close as Outdoor Cat could tolerate before streaking off.  As spring approached, he would get as close as five feet to glare at us if the bowl was empty. I think he knew the squeaky sound of the back door meant the food-providers were nearby. Sometimes he would appear three times a day, other times only once in three days.

Our trail cam then showed us Outdoor Cat, Dusty (our cat) a Stripey cat (WHO IS THAT?) and then not one but three different tuxedo (black and white cats) visiting.  All right, we will only put a small amount out after he shows himself to us, and that is working well.

A few days ago, walking through our deserted neighbourhood, we saw him two blocks away, slinking from one back yard to another, across the quiet street. “Where is your other house?” we demanded to know, but he vanished into the shrubbery.


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