A Murder in the Suburbs: It Could Happen To You

In Christine on The Scene by Christine McKellar

This is a cautionary tale that I penned in 2005. The incident truly did happen. I was stalked by angry crows. Sometimes it’s best to let mother nature run her course.


A Murder in the Suburbs

With the constant threat in the media about West Nile Disease being found in dead robins, doves, and crows, I wish I’d been firmer in my resolve to listen to that little inner voice of mine this past summer. But noooo, true to form, when I saw a large, gangly baby bird bobbing helplessly about in the raw afternoon heat in my front yard, I only semi-listened to the common sense voice in my head saying, “leave it to mother nature”: Sure.  I listened all the way to the market, while silently praying the big little fellow would be gone when I returned home.

He was still in the same spot twenty minutes later.  And it felt twenty degrees hotter.  I drove right past him, then steeled my resolve to ignore his dilemma from the coolness of my air-conditioned home.  This determination lasted a good five minutes after the groceries were put away. Visions of previous successful sparrow rescues flew through my head as I armed myself with a bowl of cool, clear water and a plastic straw. My reasoning was that that it certainly wouldn’t upset the balance of nature if I simply gifted the displaced fledgling some lifesaving moisture.

“Damn, this is one big scrawny baby bird,” I thought aloud, as the misplaced orphan wobbled up onto his really long legs and opened his really big baby beak to eagerly swallow a few cool droplets from the straw. My  steely resolve to not interfere was swept away as swiftly as the water that slid down his gullet: I decided to move the fledgling out of the sun and over to a shady hedge.

Knowing better than to leave a human scent on a wildlife creature, I went inside to grab a towel; not paying attention to the two or three really HUGE black birds now sitting on my neighbor’s lawn. Nor did I notice immediately upon my return that the little crowd across the street had now grow – not into a gaggle -but into what is clinically termed a “murder” of crows: A murder of Alfred Hitchcock proportions and intent.

Cawing, flapping huge wings, and diving, they suddenly attacked!  If it weren’t for the towel I immediately tossed over my head as I sprinted toward my house, I shudder to think what the outcome would have been. I could feel their wings beating on me. One of them nearly followed me right through the front door. If he had gained entry one or the other of us, I guarantee, would surely have ended up dead.

Sadly, it was the baby crow that was dead the following morning.  Yet for two whole days those adult crows stalked me. They perched on my porch lampposts. They made feints at me when I went out to get the morning newspaper. They darted after me when I went to my garage. From what I understand through a friend whose brother is an ornithologist, they were mad because I had a) interfered with a communal cannibalistic dinner of leftover baby chick or b) the chick’s affronted parents were complicit in the murder.

The moral of this tale? Leave those chicks alone. Not only could they be carrying a nasty little virus, you might also end up losing an eye. Sometimes trying to be nice can just be murder. – Christine McKellar 2005