Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sugar Crow

Wild birds can be aggressive warned the sign advising not to even think of feeding the birds that were thick around us.

We noted the sign as we took our hamburgers, ordered in the shops inside, to eat on the pier. Despite the wind off the bay tearing at us it was good to be in the fresh salt air.

Grackles and crows pressed in at the first appearance of food at our table. They didn't flinch when shooed away. They stood practically atop the paper wrappers cradling the meat on bun and toppings. They were without fear.

Our dismissal gestures served as a challenge. They came closer with each wave of the hand. Al stood up meaning business. This finally got their attention. Briefly. But they weren't going anywhere while something was to be had.

I could see where feeding the birds might count as an act of desperation. You hope to distract them with morsels thrown as far away as possible. You try to beat them at their own game. Your aim is to finish your meal before they come back for more.

You know, however, that doing so encourages the behavior. It isn't something you're going to do. We hunched over as if guarding treasure. We managed to protect our lunches from their encroachment.

We trusted heartburn wouldn't show up this particular day as we ate and retreated in record haste.

The pier we were visiting accommodates shops on the ground level. The topmost story has a restaurant and outdoor viewing platform. The restaurant has several tables with outdoor seating for those who prefer the open view.

Off to the side are the black plastic tubs for bussing the tables. Napkins and other supplies for this outdoor section of seating, such as the plastic containers holding salt and pepper packets, are kept there too.

As we stepped back from the viewing platform rail, having admired the city skyline from that landward side, a crow swooped past.

The dark shadow of its wings startled me. Cool as a jewelry thief it headed straight to the condiments container. The crow picked out a packet of sugar. It flew with it to land on the rail near the spot we had stood.

Expertly it poked open the sugar packet.. The beak made short work of the paper container. Only a peck or two was necessary to break through.

Sugar spilled from the packet. Granules of sugar blew in the wind. The crow got its share, enjoying the sweet treat.

The entire operation was so fast and slick we suspect it's been done before. The crow has become accustomed to a sugar high.

The crow seemed quite human caught in its sugar moment. We'll long remember the prowess, and liking for sugar, shown to us by the sugar crow.

Ro Giencke - February 4, 2012

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