October 22, 2015

The Crow Shrieker

The Horse Whisperer was published some years ago, featuring a man who had an uncanny ability to communicate with horses. I now reveal that I am a crow shrieker, which is not as glamorous as being a horse whisperer, but I’m proud of my uncanny talent.

In our backyard, there’s a big oak tree on which crows have roosted for thirteen years, ever since we moved into this house. Each night, after I take our dog Anna for her end-of-day pee, we sit on the patio sofa, enjoying the sunset or, if the hour is late, the lights of Newport. At sunset, the crows are active, often taking offense at Anna’s presence, shrieking at us.

One night, I imitated their shriek but belted it out at great volume. I was amused when repeatedly my shriek silenced them for a minute. After my fifth or sixth response to them, they were silent longer——until one bird flew down from the tree, to the edge of the patio, and stood staring at me. I stared back, and after a moment, it shrieked. I shrieked in, if I do say so myself, a perfect imitation of it, but louder. The crow flew away, and a second later, a dozen crows in the oak burst into fight and followed it. Two months later, they have not returned. I lack Dr. Dolittle’s ability to speak with animals, but I seem to have the power to scare the hell out of crows.

Anna watched all this with interest. My shrieking did not in the least disturb her. But she knows her dad is. . . different.

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