24 September 2005


I live in a small, intimate apartment complex...hidden, actually. It's situated next to a wide irrigation ditch, lush with trees like maples, box-elders, mountain ash, plums, and cherry.

I have the choicest of eight apartments. I am damned lucky. My apartment is such that it has its own set of stairs and its own landing. The only reason anyone need climb these stairs is to enter my apartment. This means the walk, the stairs, and this landing have become my territory to do with as I please. And I've done plenty. I have 3 benches along the walk, in addition to several planters crowded with impatiens and lobelia. There are also bright flowers potted on each step coming up to my door.

This area of the yard is somewhat cut off from the rest of the apartment complex...making it private. And while no one could call it exclusively mine, people do not casually venture into this area. This makes it a perfect refuge for many animals already attracted to the water, fruit, and foliage - racoons, chipmunks, geese, ducks, squirrels, mice, finches, magpies, sparrow hawks, crows, the odd deer, and one lone canary who's survived a single winter, so far.

One of the box-elder trees reaches very close to my "porch." Squirrels climb to the edge and leap to the railing here. And there's one crow who will come to the edge of the tree and coo at me.

Today while standing on my porch, enjoying the rain, I was cooing back to this crow who seems to have taken to me. While I was standing there, she hopped from the tree on to the railing! And then tentatively cawed at me. It was a quiet noise...for a crow. Taking care not to move, and as calmly as I could, I said "hello," using the coo-coo singsong tone she uses. So then she clucked at me, and then a single, kmpll coo...followed by more soft clucking...she walked sideways on the railing getting to within 6 inches of me, then blinked a few times. Then as she lifted off the railing, she made a louder single caw. Not an alarm caw...more a single cawww. She landed on the ground below, and proceeded to nibble on a piece of bread I'd tossed out earlier... she picked up the bread, and flew back into the tree she'd left in the first place, and her baby joined her there...sharing her bread...

I didn't move for another 10 minutes for fear I'd startle her. I'm totally blown away.


Sandy said...

Oh, that is absolutely fabulous.

When I used to grow a large garden we had it fenced with hog wire, the type with large squares. Everyday I worked out in my garden and little birds would come and sit in the wire squares and chirp at me. One day I was standing by the fence where several of these little birds were perched and I reached over and stroked ones breast with my index finger. It just set there so I thought I'd see if it would get on my index finger and it did but only for a second. My husband saw it happen and we couldn't believe it.

I don't know the name of the bird but we called them chi chi birds because of the sounds they make.

I can tell you are filled with awe just as I was.

How wonderful.

Catnapping said...

it's times like today that i wish my phone was working! of course, i would have been incoherent...you would have thought i'd had a stroke, and called 911, they'd have come here, and hauled me away...and i wouldn't got to make a new crow picture!


Anonymous said...

I WISH you had an email address, but I'll tell you here. I have just finished writing a Bird Book. The most involves crows. I know you would love these stories, they will be posted online mid next year because it will take that long to illustrate. I communicate with 'wild' birds every day. Your image is magical, I'm glad you posted this story. Hope the baby crow will become just as familiar with you.

Catnapping said...

Hi anonymous.

I've always loved crows. They're just so bad, ya know? I'm drawn to their mischief. And I love that they're such a social animal.

When I attended university, I lived in student housing. And there were several crows there that started to hang around. And it's from them that I first heard the cooing...the kmpll and the mllmp sounds...right away, I started to try and use the same tone and pitch for the word 'hello,' substituting it for the kmp-ll. After about a year...there were 2 that would try to say e-llul. It really freaked out a few folks...myself included!

I look forward to reading your book about crows. And especially to see your interpretations in illustration.

Anonymous said...

I came to find a new story and found the best you have written so far. Keep them coming. I love your stories. Do you have any about the deer you see?

Maria Sandina

Toni said...

This story is so cool!!!! I also feed birds, squirrels, rabbits, butterflies and anything else that comes into my yard. I love to sit on my garden bench and watch. Birds like chickadees, titmice, nuthatch and wrens don't mind me and come and feed. The sparrows and house finches sit back and wait for me to leave.
Enjoy your patio and walkway

Catnapping said...


I've noticed that too, with the chicadees and nuthatches...they're much bolder. Jays are like that too. Once they get used to the idea of you being there...

There's a sparrow hawk that spends a couple of days a week hanging around my yard. I think it makes the smaller birds verrrry nervous. But I hesitate to chase her away; she needs to eat, too.

I had to chuckle when you mentioned feeding butterflies. My husband once told me, if there weren't any furry animals wandering in our yard, I'd feed the ants.

Anonymous said...

Excellent story.

Occasionally, those little magic moments pop up. Usually they're unplanned and spur of the moment. I used to wish someone would have been there to see what I had seen, or heard what I had heard. I've come to the opinion though that these special moments are Because we are alone - almost an intimate experience with nature. A very special story Catnapping. Thanks - BurntOrange.

Pajara Pinta said...

the craw story is so nice!!! I love birds!! so fascinating...

I have an ilustration blog you might like



ardi k said...

Yeah! for crows. I love them too. Thanks for sharing.

violetismycolor said...

It sounds like you have a wonderful place, full of natural beauty, that you are making the most of. This made me think of how much I love my garden and all that it gives me in the warm months. I will get out there tomorrow (now that it is above freezing again) and get those new plants in the ground.

Gawpo said...

Thought I'd cruise to the beginnings of your blog life. Here I graze.

You are going to love my Bandtail Pigeon posts that will begin to appear next month. At their peak of interest in my yard, they will swoop down in the hundreds for the food I put out for them on my plywood sheets on sawhorses.

Do you have email these days? I read herein that you did not at the time of this post.

Renee said...

Cat do you remember that experience even today? I think I would.

Renee xoxoo