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Lileks: Feral cats? What about feral crows?

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS
  • Star Tribune
  • September 12, 2013 - 7:36 PM

Feral cats? Let me tell you about our feral crows. They sit on the fence and yell at people.

The intelligence of the creatures is alarming. Studies show that they remember faces and are capable of revenge. More than one person has found his credit rating ruined, and found out that six credit cards had been taken out in his name by crows.

They will follow you into convenience stores and remember your PIN if you hit the cash machine. I knew a guy whose house sale was in limbo for six months because crows altered the title somehow.

So I was not entirely dismayed to find a big dead crow on the sidewalk the other day. I suspected other crows, of course. Maybe this crow squealed on the others. I’ll pin his wings. You push him off the branch.

I let it sit there overnight, expecting Nature to do something with it, somehow. We have raccoons the size of Mini Coopers around here; maybe they’d drag it down into their lair.

It was still there the next day, so I kicked it into a bag and put the bag in the trash. If anything should go into recycling, you’d think it would be a crow, but the city has a strict no-corpse policy, and there’s really nothing they can make out of them.

“Made of 10 percent post-consumer crow” is not something you see on any product.

I was later informed that if you hang a crow in your yard, other crows will avoid your home. (Note: This does not work with door-to-door survey takers; don’t get excited.) Possibly, but:

A) I can imagine hanging a crow from the eaves, stepping back to admire my work, and seeing neighbors out for a stroll. “Er — ’evening! Just getting a jump on Halloween. Caw! Ha ha.”

B) Even if you don’t have crows anymore you have a dead one hanging on a string, and it gets to be January, and your spouse says, “Are you going to take down the lights? Also the crow?”

C) If crows are as smart as advertised, they will wait four years, follow you to a different city, and attack you as you’re entering a motel room. And you would know why.

Detail you don’t need at all: I actually kicked the dead crow into a beach towel, which I wrapped with my foot and kicked into the bag. Dealing with a dead bird is like using a public restroom in Penn Station in New York: Just pretend you don’t have hands. Imagine the cootie-level and you’ll find you can work your zipper with your elbows.

The beach towel was a ragged, bleached-out Mickey Mouse towel from daughter’s childhood, and it was a reminder we’re long past the happy days of Disney. So yes, putting a dead crow in the shroud of lost toddlerhood was the highlight of the day.

I cursed myself when I read the story about the City Council considering the legalization of feral cat packs. Why didn’t I just let cats handle it?

No, they just kill birds. They don’t do anything with them, do they? You see a picture of an enormous fat cat, you don’t think, “My, someone’s been getting into the crow.” Cats do not tangle with crows.

The feral cat debate, as you might imagine, has brought out the best in Internet comments: “I love cats more than the children I never had, but I understand the point of those who want to prevent them from living free, romantic lives under the pearl-like lure of the autumn moon.”

Or: “My lawn reeks from cat urine and the godless yowling of their violent coupling keeps me up at night, and while I’ve seen them attack helpless fluffy baby bunnies, I certainly get why cat lovers who admire their grace and poise want them to romp free in a storybook world of excitement and exploration.”

Seriously! It’s just like that in the comments. Let’s use this new understanding to come together on a common policy toward Syria, shall we?

Kidding. People are squaring off as expected. I’m not going to tell people they’re wrong to give aid and comfort to feral cats instead of, say, food shelters, because the two are not mutually exclusive, and your definition of philanthropy is none of my business.

But this stat stuck out: Domestic cats kill a billion birds a year. And they get away with it.

If feral dogs killed a billion cats a year, there’d be outrage. If feral cats killed 100 billion honeybees annually, there would be some who said, “Well, that’s nature.”

Meanwhile, the crows peer at your car from the branches, memorizing your license plate so they can submit false insurance claims.

I’m not saying we’re looking at the wrong problem here, but if enough people respond to this column by asking the City Council to consider the problem of financially savvy identity-thief crow gangs, then we’ll know things are pretty good in the City of Lakes. Nothing else to fix!

 

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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