Our suburban neighbourhood is full of critters I used to find exotic—rabbits, black squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons and skunks who seem to have a copy of the City of Ottawa garbage collection schedule, mosquitoes, earwigs and spiders, garter snakes, a few stray cats and plenty of leashed dogs. And if you look up, you can see birds I don’t know the name of and easy-to-spot species like seagulls, ducks and geese.
Oh, and crows. There are crows around as well.
Never paid much attention to them before… until one of them scared the shit out of me yesterday.
I have zero interest in having a pet but I try to treat all living things with kindness. I leave bugs alone or move them to a more suitable place (i.e. dear spider, you don’t get to sleep inches from my pillow). I teach rabbits basic road safety rules—if, around midnight, you ever see a woman coaxing a rabbit to move to the sidewalk instead of hanging out in the middle of the road, well, that’s me.
I’m afraid for animals but I’m not scared of them—we’re not in bear country and snakes around here aren’t the deadly kind.
So, it was around 2 p.m. and I had just taken Feng to the optometrist. This is a constant in our relationship, he loses or breaks his glasses, delays getting a new pair for a few months, then suddenly it’s a priority and can I please come with him.
I was rushing home to drop off stuff, freshen up and move on to the next task before taking Mark to his swimming lesson.
I crossed the WalMart parking lot where seagulls congregate, then I took Niki Way.
There was a woman about twenty metres ahead of me. We were both walking fast, probably for different reasons, but it’s the time of the day when women tend to rush anyway. School buses would be here soon—if your kid takes a yellow Blue Bird to go home, you’d better be there on time, standing at the curb.
If the woman didn’t have a school-age kid taking the bus, maybe she was rushing because it was getting stormy. Indeed, clouds were coming our way, not the white fluffy kind but fat, dark pockets of rain that could burst at any minute.
A crow perched on top of a house on the left cawed. Instinctively, we both looked up.
He cawed again several times.
I briefly wondered if birds can sense danger or detect a bad storm—we’re still a bit traumatized by last year’s tornadoes.
Suddenly, the crow flew from the roof of the house on our left to the roof of a house on our right side, except that instead of flying high and gracefully like they teach you in Flying 101 at crow school, it flew so close to the woman’s head that she had to duck.
She let out a scream.
“Wow, that was low!” I commented.
The crow, still on top of the house, gave another burst of several caws. Without warning, it dive-bombed the poor woman.
She started running.
“That’s so weird!” I thought, still walking fast.
The crow started chasing after the women. She reached the end of the street, turned right and I lost sight of her, but since she was screaming, I assumed it was still swooping down at her.
It occurred to me that maybe I should be running too, but would it help? I mean, there was only one direction to go and it was straight. You can’t really escape from a bird, unless you take cover but there is no shelter in suburban Ottawa.
I started running.
I eventually caught up to the woman, two blocks further. The crow wasn’t following us anymore.
Two minutes later, I was home. And fifteen minutes later, because I’m a creature of habit and because there’s only one way to the main road, I stepped into crow territory again. I could hear it cawing.
“I’m not going to take a detour to avoid a damn crow!” I thought. “It was probably just… drunk? Crazy?”
The damn bird dive bombed me.
I started running and it followed me. I finally got rid of him when I stepped into seagull territory, on the WalMart parking lot.
I pulled my phone out of my bag—never mind I had just written about the fact I rarely use my smartphone. “Can crow…” I didn’t even have to look for the right word, Google read my mind.
“Can crows attack humans?”
“Can crow be aggressive?”
Apparently crows do attack people. April to July is nesting season, which means they are more prone to attacking those walking past their nest. It seems to be a big problem in Vancouver.