Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Murder of Crows

The way that America houses people has created more than an economic bubble, it has it has created a crisis for the urban and suburban wildlife that depend on native plants and a healthy ecosystem for sustainance.

The SOP for developers here (Kirkland WA) is to scrape the nutrient poor glaciel till into to little landing pads for oversized homes that peer into their neighbors bathrooms and dining rooms.
There are supposed to be restrictions on tree removal but I have yet to see them enforced. The mandate that requires developers to preserve 25% of "heritage trees" is more than esthetic. It rains in the Pacific Northwest and trees suck up soil moisture, preventing flooding and help to pin down the thin, acidic soils.

The development next door is symptomatic of the greed and ignorance that drives business today. The land once held a healthy grove of fir and cedar that housed a crow rookery among other things. Walking into the grove in spring would excite the rath of crow parents and send them noisily circling above your head. It was lively, interesting and comforting to know that they could thrive without any help from us
Besides controlling runoff, the trees absorbed pollutents from a nearby freeway and provided solace to the soul.

The land was originally a homestead and was occupied by generations of the same family. Many generations of people and many generations of crows grew together on this land.

All but three of the trees in the little forest were murdered. Others were in the way of a "house footprint". Still more succumbed when workers ran heavy machinery over their root systems, damaging them beyond recovery. The crows vanished.

Now the crows are back with a vengence; dozens and dozens of them. They fly in every afternoon to forage in the wheat straw the builders have spread on the raw earth to help absorb the run off and keep the "weeds" (wild flowers and berries) from returning. Because they are intelligent birds, they play.

These crows are not pokey little blackbirds, they are formidable. They are the jumbo sized, raucous birds of the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps they are just grabbing a quick snack, exploiting all the food sources in their increasingly restricted environment. Perhaps there is no real significance to their return, but I don't think so.

I like to think they are re-asserting their ownership of the land. They are reminding us that there are higher laws than the laws of profit and ownership. That when push comes to shove, natural law trumps everything.

I look forward to see them perched amid the spindly, nursery grown cherry blossoms this spring like an omen. I like to think about them crowing and crapping while the realtors try and separate their clients from obscene amounts of money in exchange for their shoddy merchandise. I look forward to their daily return like an uncomfortable thought to a troubled conscience.

Carol DW