It is spring and babies are being born.
As I gingerly walk from my front door to the park next to our house, a crow begins to caw. He is perched low in the tree and looking out onto our courtyard, eyeing me in particular it seems. As I approach his caws become higher pitched and more frantic. I pass underneath his perch and swoosh, he soars down towards me, almost skimming my head as he passes. More cawing and then back again from the direction he came, diving again towards my head making a horrible racket. Within my physical limitations, I begin to run a bit to get away from him. Later, I go out to get something across the street in my car and the same cawing warning, frantic cries and then dive bombing.
As the hours and days pass, he is sometimes there and sometimes not. He dive bombs my friend in the morning but is nowhere to be found midday when the mailman, he who is best prepared for the onslaught with his hard-shelled sun hat, clambers up the walk and then he is back again when my husband returns from work. He goes after passers by on the side walk, people walking in the park and those of us living in the apartments adjacent to the tall pines he and his family, it turns out, live in.
As I am first annoyed and yell, fruitlessly, “Stop! Stop it, Crow!”, it quickly turns to frustration and anger. I consider walking around with my kid’s Wiffle bat and swinging it at him as he heads toward me. In this time of heightened emotion, I even have a fantasy of shooting him down with a gun. My anger morphs into fear as he becomes bolder and more and aggressive and I worry that he will come after one of the small children that lives in our complex.
Then my friend tells me he must have a baby around here somewhere that he is trying to fend us off from. I notice the next day that he is watching from his perch, not just me walking towards him, but also another crow below him in the bush, who is tending to, I can only imagine, their baby.
I stand at the end of the walk, look up at him for awhile and him at me, my fear turning to compassion. Connection even. I tell him quietly, “I understand now, Crow.”
I, too, am an animal. I, too, am at the whim of nature, at the mercy of this natural world. I, too, would hurl myself at a giant predator to save my baby. If I had the chance.