Crow Taxidermy

I love watching birds.  Yes, I am one of those people.  Our coffee table is covered with bird books.  Front and center is the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds, our-binoculars, and our bird sighting journal.  How can anyone not be interested in meat eating theropods?  The actual translation for theropods is “beast-footed.”  For the clueless, I’m talking about bipedal dinosaurs.  If you have ever taken a close look at birds’ feet, especially larger birds, you will easily understand how they earned this name.

However, their beastly feet do not stop me from feeling compassion for them during the cold winter months.  You will find me braving the cold winds, ice, and snow to fill bird feeders. I typically stop filling bird feeders late in the spring as mother nature begins to take over meal production.  It was soon after I stopped filling the feeders this past springs that our empty tray feeder became prime nesting real estate. A pair of doves moved in and quickly began construction of a twig and grass nest.

I watched day after day as the dove sat on her two eggs.  Her perseverance to keep her eggs warm and protected in the blowing wind, rain, and unusually hot spring days was truly remarkable.  The chicks finally hatched and I was able to get a look at their adorable little downy faces. 

Unfortunately, their peeping attracted predators.  The squirrels were first to arrive, but they didn’t prove to be much of a match and were easily shooed away with sharp pointy beaks, fluttering wings, and of course, beastly feet.  The next predator to arrive was a black crow.  I have always admired crows with their beautiful black glossy feathers and their remarkable intelligence.  What I didn’t realize is that they are vicious killers and will kill a dove and devour its young.

I was horrified as I watched a black crow swoop down towards the dove nest.  As I ran to the patio door, the mother dove flew away and attempted to lure the crow to her by dropping to the ground and fluttering her wings.  I took her lead and flew out the door flapping my arms like featherless wings.  I reached the nest before the crow had a chance to snatch up a baby dove.  It changed course rapidly in mid-air, taking a new flight path away from the crazed woman that had suddenly appeared.

As frightening as I might have initially appeared to the crow, it didn’t stop him from returning and sizing me up for a potential take-down.  I watched as he landed in a tree 20 feet away and began breaking off leaves and small branches with his beak, all the while looking directly at me.  It was almost as if he was taunting me and saying, “hey lady, I’m gonna get you and your little bird too.”  Evil creature.  Having served in the military, I knew I would need reinforcements, as no battle is won alone.  I called on my trusty dog Lemon to join me in bird-battle.  I let her out and together we engaged in pre-battle posturing.  I waved my red handled broom and roared like a lion ready to hack up a hair ball while Lemon barked ferociously and ran in circles.  It was our own strange version of a battle-cry.  The crow did not appear fazed and gave us a bored look before it flew away.  I was obviously going to have to take a different approach, because this bird was going to fight dirty.

I started looking online for solutions to crows attacking dove nests.  I read a post from someone on a self-help page that crows will not come near an area where there is another dead crow.  Smart.  I don’t think I would be hanging out near any dead bodies either.  Someone had taken his guidance to heart and purchased and hung a taxidermy crow by its feet in a tree.  “Well, if that’s what it takes,” I thought to myself.  I started looking on Etsy and eBay for taxidermy crows.   I obviously didn’t put much thought into it before beginning the search, because I didn’t expect to find much.  Apparently, there is a quite a market for this sort of thing and it’s expensive.  The more I read, the more I learned.  I found it both gross and disturbing; this art form that is basically the arrangement of skin.

If I wanted a taxidermy crow, I was looking at potentially spending several hundred dollars for something that would become a tree ornament.  Not having that kind of money to splurge on taxidermy, I started looking for crow parts.  Hey, crows are smart, they might not need an entire corpse to encourage them to fly in the opposite direction.  I wouldn’t either, one leg or arm and I’d be running away… far away. 

I was thinking that maybe a few feet hanging in the trees would do it… my version of a bird mobster warning.  So, I started researching crow feet.  What I learned is that they are sometimes used for certain types of rituals.  We do plan on renewing the lease on our apartment and I had a feeling that crow feet hanging from our patio trees might preclude future renewals.  I also started thinking about where these poor birds were sourced from, did they just suddenly drop from the sky and land at the feet of a taxidermist?  Not likely.  Yes, the evil crow had not cured me of my compassion.

In the end, Jim (my husband) had a brilliant idea and brought the feeder with the baby chicks inside whenever we would see the mother dove leave her nest.  I also moved the feeder from its very visible location and created a duck blind, or should I say “crow blind,” of tree and bush branches to hide it from view.

The crow returned several times with a couple of his buddies, but luckily it happened after the chicks were safely inside.  This went on for several days and I wish I could say that the crows eventually gave up and we got to see the chicks fledge and leave their nest, but sadly that did not happen.

Crows, I have learned, have infinite patience, and nature can be very cruel.  This experience has taught me that even though the crow is much smaller, it is still an intelligent and vicious beast-footed dinosaur.

If you are a taxidermist, Jim is willing and ready to provide you with fresh crows.

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