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Birding author presents ‘Gift of the Crow’ at Get Lit!

WILDLIFE WATCHING  – If you don’t think crows are cool, you haven’t read “In the Company of Crows and Ravens,” (Yale University Press) by John Marzluff, a University of Washington professor of Wildlife Science.

To catch up, bring the kids and catch his presentation, “Gifts of the Crow,” at 7 p.m. on Thursday (April 11) at the Mobius Science Center on Main Avenue across the street from River Park Square.

It’s one of many fun events set for EWU’s Get Lit! literary festival.

Marzluff’s latest book, “Gift of the Crow,” (Free Press) combines biology, conservation and anthropology to present an in-depth look at the way humans and crows have mutually influenced each other. The illustrated book reveals how crows share human behaviors such as delinquency, risk-taking, and even language.

Know your corvids

A fair number of people around here can't tell the difference between crows and ravens.

And despite what some of my readers might suggest, I am not one of them.

Every time I mention crows in my column, I hear from someone who says "Those are actually ravens."

Sometimes this is said in a good-natured way. Sometimes not.

It's always puzzling to me that people would be so confident in their mistaken belief that they would not bother to check their facts before taking the liberty of "correcting" someone. But I suppose politics and matters of public policy aren't the only things about which some of us willingly embrace erroneous notions.

Yes, we have ravens around here. But they have several distinctive features. Look it up.

When I say I'm talking about crows, I'm talking about crows.

So what explains the fact that so many people are confused? I've thought about this. And I think it all goes back to childhood cartoons and comic books featuring crows with yellow beaks. Some people see a black beak and assume it can't be a crow.

If you have another theory, I'd love to hear it.


Lampert drills down on the varmint issue

Some candidates, particularly novices, have an annoying habit of announcing a vague stand for or against something when they kick off their campaign, and never refining, clarifying or elucidating it later.
Not so with City Council Candidate Barbara Lampert. She came out four-square against varmints when she began her campaign. Her latest campaign literature, a 3.5 inch by 8.5 inch door insert, brings the issue into sharp focus. Eliminate skunks. Lessen the squirrel population. Eradicate crows. Decrease marmots.
It is possible that Lampert, a perennial candidate who has run for something or another for the last 15 years, knows not to make a rookie mistake.
It’s unlikely, however, she’ll get much support from those who like their furry or feathery friends. Sure, skunks can be smelly, squirrels annoying and crows obnoxious. But marmots? They’re cute.

Who needs a crow whistle?

Good morning, Netizens…


Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark's story (http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/jul/19/doug-clark-bird-calling-device-is-something-to/) about a crow-calling device this morning did not quite live up to Hillyard standards because we have the genuine article right down the street. Pinky, a delightful old bat who lives down the street from the Virtual Ballroom has been calling a pair of crows by name for several months and feeding them bread crumbs on her front lawn each day.


Who needs a crow-calling wooden whistle when you have Heckle and Jeckle, two Hillyard crows, who seem to favor our neighborhood, perhaps because of this retired 90 year-old woman adorned in pink-colored hair who comes out daily armed with a bowl of shredded bread crumbs and calls them by name?


Nobody is certain how or when our neighbor first began calling the two crows Heckle and Jeckle, although several resident cartoon historians have been quick to point out the original Terrytoons Heckle and Jeckle cartoon characters were actually magpies, not crows, but that seems irrelevant when you consider the end result. The pair of crows, and oftentimes their friends and relatives show up calling for their breakfast until Pinky comes out and delivers their ration of bread crumbs.


On those rare occasions when our resident crow-caller shows up earlier than expected, all she has to do is call them by name, and they swoop out of the trees and march in imperious splendor across the grass to where their meals await them.


Although nobody has ever checked the crows to see they are indeed Heckle and Jeckle rather than crow-imposters, having witnessed this daily call to bread crumbs, where Pinky calls them by name, there is little doubt in anyone's mind that at least two of the crows are the genuine items. Of course, throughout the rest of the day, itinerant crows drop raucously by to check for any remaining crumbs so life is never dull in Hillyard.



Watch out for strafing

Isn't it almost baby crow/defend the nest season?