The crow caws at 5am

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

We were under attack again this morning, this time on Jan's end of the house.


Caw. Caw. Caw. Caw!

It began innocuously enough last autumn, with one solitary, emotionally damaged crow hurling himself repeatedly against one of our basement windows. The stunt ended as soon as it began, and so we just chalked it up as one of those peculiar things that only happen to us. Like stalkers in a foreign land, blindness brought on by Omega-3 pills and turtles that move like roadrunners.

Fast forward to the winter, when not one, but two crows began taking turns dive-bombing our double paned glass, at 5am. Not long after, I watched them case our house. That’s when I named them.

Here’s the thing… Crows are smart. Really freaking smart. I know this because I’ve watched The Nature of Things. Crows can make tools. Tools! In addition, they have remarkable memories and possess the ability to recognize faces. Also, they can solve puzzles. Sudoku puzzles. And, when they are in a gang, they are called a murder. Talk about being bad-ass. It is for these reasons that I have always had a deep admiration for crows, despite the fact that they emit horrific squawks, not unlike some of the indie death metal musicians I used to interview.

However, when our two crows - Merle and Haggard – started jumping from window to window in a far too meticulous manner and telling all of their friends about the super plus good times that could be had at the Mulder Slater residence, I knew something had to be done to end the assault which was no longer limited to the early morning hours.

This is Merle. I can tell from the way he looks and screams at me.

Last week, I did what anyone in my situation would do. I consulted the Internets and in the process uncovered not only a bag of worms and a kettle of fish, but also a barrel of monkeys. Ugly, angry monkeys. With red butts.

Turns out, this is a problem of epidemic proportions, with widespread damage being regularly inflicted on commercial glazing, residential glass doors and car windshields.

How are you people coping with this crap day after day after day?

Bombardment solutions from folks online were all over the map and ranged from removing all screens from your windows and covering up all reflective surfaces with cardboard to setting out rotten meat and playing a “Crow be Gone” disc*

The thing everyone agreed on (based on experience), was to never yell or toss rocks at the birds. Unless (commented one warrior) you own a big-ass Mardi Gras party mask. Because remember,  crows recognize and remember faces.

I was feeling a little hopeless as visions of an Alfred Hitchcock film I’ve never seen, danced through my head. But then, I ran across a Globe & Mail article* written by Jason Tchir.

The article begins with this question from a reader:

“How do you keep a murder of crows from picking at your sunroof?”

The answer, according to Tchir’s research, is simple:

“Make ’em think your car has murdered a crow.”

The article also quotes Kevin J. McGowan, a behavioral ecologist at Cornell University who thinks that crows attacking windows could be a sign of juvenile delinquency. "And," he says, "they could be teaching the trick to other, younger crows – so this could go on for years."

This could go on for years?! I knew what I had to do. The only way to get the crows to stop throwing themselves at us, was to make our place appear to be dangerous, even though it isn't. Like Miley Cyrus. Or Justin Bieber.

Finding a dead crow decoy for sale is harder than you might think. But after some searching, Jan located and ordered this. 

We weren’t hopeful. Still, I placed it outside (but not before plucking and scattering a couple of feathers – as if to say, shit just got real).

It didn’t work.

Plan B involved sticking the 5 year old’s stuffed toy kitty behind one of the windows which I was pretty sure would just attract more crows. Or cats. Which - between you and me - would be worse.

I had given up hope of ever ending the rampage against our basement glass when... the unthinkable happened.

Geoff walked into the house and said, "Honey, I've got a dead crow in the back of the truck."


I looked in horror at my husband - a man who rescues orphaned field mice and nurses baby birds back to health. Did the lack of sleep finally get to him? Was the relentless tapping on the windows making him go crazy?

"It's roadkill!" he said, "I just picked it up."

My repeated barks of, "Don't touch it!" followed by, "Did you touch it?", "Don't breathe around it!" and "That poor bird", were silenced by Geoff who alerted me to the fact that blood was now dripping from the crow's head onto the pristine snow below so could we decide what the f*#%  to do next, please for the love of god, please.

We were both revolted as we stared at one another. We paused, gave each other a quick nod and then, walked toward the basement window.

"Let's. Do. This."

Geoff laid the crow down and after a moment of silence, we said a few words including - but not limited to - ugh, ooh, ew, aw and damn.

Then, we walked away. And felt sick to our stomachs.

Sure enough, Merle and Haggard and all of their friends came around to see the corpse.

They circled from a distance, chattered a lot and left the yard shortly thereafter. A little while later, I saw them flying around in front of the house - far, far in front of the house. But they have yet to return to the window.

No, really.

UPDATED: See here -->

Please note: No crows were harmed in the writing of this blog post. Well, except for the crow that someone hit on the highway. May he rest in peace. On our yard. Until we give him a proper burial. Away from the window. And to be clear, I'm talking about the crow. I can't believe I have to clarify this. But then again...



A poem for Opa

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I'm presently working on a blog post that is borderline revolting. Not unlike my time in 9th grade. But before I share it with you, I thought I would share something completely unrelated I recently found while digging through old boxes.

It's a poem I wrote for my dad's father, when I was 9 years old... and (evidently) enamored with poultry.  Which, now that I think about it, actually makes this poem marginally related to what I'm currently writing.

But that's another story...


No, really.