Gimee, gimee, gimee! (8th installment of making friends with crows.)

(painting thanks to Sara Pulver)

I’d know that noise anywhere.  Somebody wants something and they’re going to beg, beg, beg until they get it.  Never mind that this somebody is not one of my own kids, never mind this somebody is, in fact, a bird: the whine has a universal quality that transcends space, time, and species. 

Suddenly, there’s a new crow in the neighborhood.  In the redwood tree in our back yard, to be precise.  I hadn’t seen Momcrow or Dadcrow for months but suspected they were up there because I’d watched them bringing material to make the nest.  They disappeared while the egg was incubating or the hatchling was still too young for visitors but now they are everywhere I look, flapping and hopping-to in a flurry to introduce their little one to the world.

I remember when my babies were new.  After my first, I didn’t leave the house for two weeks.  I just sat there, stunned and amazed, paralyzed, forgetting to eat or bathe or breathe, just staring at her as if her sleeping face was the most fascinating thing I’d ever seen.  I swear, babies have some kind of magic stuff inside them and every time they exhale, they pull you even deeper under their spell. (Scientists need to study this phenomenon.  Just think of the applications!)  Even now, my children are somehow able to get me to do things I would never imagine.  Yes, I prepare every meal.  Yes, I still sometimes wipe my four year-old’s butt.  Yes, I spend a significant portion of time cleaning up their mess.  Yes, they are completely capable of doing these things for themselves, but I am completely wrapped around their little fingers. 

I am their love slave.  (Whatever you do, don’t let them breathe on you.)

Momcrow and Dadcrow are working hard these days.  If I was an expert, I’d be able to tell you precisely how a chick differs from its parent, but to me, it looks the same only slightly more rumpled.  The main difference I see is behavioral, mostly in its vocalization.  This baby whines, chats, begs, urges, yells, cries, and croaks a little tune when it’s bored.  Momcrow and Dadcrow went off one day and that young one clung to a branch of the redwood tree and moaned (yes, moaned) incessantly for more than an hour until they returned.  Since it learned to fly, the baby has tagged along with them but does not yet feed itself.  The parents zoom down, grab the best two peanuts, and fly to the top of the building across the street to pick the shells off and the baby shadows every move, whining like a siren until it has a nut in its beak.     

My first girl’s first word was “MORE!” and she still can’t even eat crackers unless I’m involved.  My little one says that food tastes better when I feed it to her by hand.  “I’m thirsty!” “I want ice cream!”  “Peel me a grape!”  They are like little birds who manage to chirp with their beaks open, waiting for the worm. And if I don’t come immediately, they start to repeat it:  “I want ice cream, I want ice cream, I want ice cream, I want ice cream, I want ice cream….”  If I had a dime for every word they say, I’d buy myself some diamond-studded earmuffs or some super-fabulous noise cancelling device designed by NASA or, since I’m playing What If, how about a trip to outer space while I’m at it?  But even out past the ozone layer I’d know they wanted something (“turn up the music, turn up the music, turn up the music, turn it up, turn it up…!”) and I would have to come back down to earth to yell, “Do it yourself, for pity’s sake!  You have two hands!  I am NOT raising damsels in distress, so you better figure it out!”

My cursory research on crows tells me that by fall, I won’t be able to tell the parent from its young.   If it is female, she will most likely leave to find her own mate and territory.  Male crows sometimes hang around longer and help their parents, so I know that the solitary crow I’ve been feeding all spring is probably male, probably Momcrow and Dadcrow’s baby from last year, and I have not seen him since the chick started its racket.  I am alarmed by this news and flabbergasted by the notion that soon, this brand new crow may also leave.  Soon, my two little birds will fly off and make nests somewhere else. 

The tick marks are creeping up the wall where they stand to be measured and I’m standing with a pen in one hand and a wad of tissue in the other wondering how the hell this happens.

To read more about the crows’s family (and mine), click here.


Check out Kristen Lamb’s blog  and her book We Are Not Alone : The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Good stuff!

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. How, indeed.

    I’ve enjoyed tagging along with your tales of making friends with crows, and this one had the added interest of the motherhood conundrum. My own child (who I would have to refer to as a woman if she were listening) is off this weekend to something called Lakes of Fire. (Whatever that is.) I remember throwing my head back years ago, when she was much shorter than me, wondering how long it would take her to learn to do things for herself. The when of it happening is a little hazy for me, but I put down the pen a long time ago, and I’m still holding the wad of tissue. Sometimes now, we visit and she breathes on me again, and it still works. You’re right. Someone needs to study that.

  2. Thanks, Sparks, for your empathy! I’m glad the breath thing does not wear off, because I’m probably addicted. Much, much nicer than sniffing glue or huffing paint. Some crazy airborne love bug, for sure.

  3. little brother

    love it momma!

  4. a lovely sketch catching so much truth

  5. I really liked this. I have a thing about crows in general – have you ever read any of Charles de Lint’s books? He’s one of my favorite authors, and he has some characters who are crows. Also Tamora Pierce has a couple books and a story that feature crow-people. I just love crows. So I loved this piece – and I think your writing is fantastic.

  6. Your writing is beautiful, Anna. I loved this.

    My oldest graduated high school last week, and I had the oddest, most purely physiological reaction to seeing him in his cap and gown. It felt like 18 years of pent-up worry and emotion and pride and hope had been lodged in my throat and somewhere just behind my eyes; I couldn’t have stopped the tears for anything.

    One of my chicks can fly.

  7. This is another of the many reasons why I don’t want to have children just yet. I cannot imagine being anyone else’s slave in that way, and I’m quite sure that once I have kids, it will happen. I know everyone says they like it once it happens to them (or at least that they’re so glad it did), but… not me. Not yet.

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