The past several weeks, I’ve loved watching as spring has set firmly upon us. The trees have turned a chartreuse green and their leaves glitter in the morning sunshine. The wildflowers are beginning to polka-dot the forest floor as well as the oak prairies. Canada Geese are honking their way north, usually I hear them well before I see the long V-shaped lines cross the sky.
Many of the birds which winter at our feeders have headed out to summer breeding grounds. While those that spend their summers with us have turned their minds to other things, like the gold finches which have changed into their bright yellow mating clothes.
It seems that the crows are also spending more time with their mates. I have a pair that I often see in an old cottonwood tree next to our house. They like to sit side-by-side as they survey their surroundings. Sometimes it appears that one of them is feeding or grooming the other as they sit together. Earlier this week as I drove up our street, I noticed one crow foraging in our neighbor’s lawn while the other was keeping guard from a nearby tree branch.
I also know that spring is firmly upon us because I need to brush our dogs on a very regular basis. Although they spend a lot of time inside, they still put on a good winter coat that comes out gradually throughout the spring and early summer. The soft grass in the back yard is the favorite spot for brushing, and the dogs always come running when they see the brush in my hand. Sometimes I pick up the big wads of fur they leave behind but I can never get it all, even if I try. Sometimes I don’t try and just leave it there to blow in the wind.
Earlier this week as I was in the kitchen cleaning, movement out in the back yard caught my eye. A crow had just flown in, and from its deliberate actions I knew it was there for a reason. I stood quietly at the window so as not to disturb it and watched as it slowly walked through the lawn. I thought it might be hunting or foraging. Eventually it pecked at something, then something else. Slowly it was gathering little tufts of dog fur that had settled down amongst the blades of grass. After a minute or two, with its beak full, it flew off, presumably to line its nest.
Having never observed this behavior before, I took the dogs outside and gave them a good brushing, purposefully leaving the fur strewn across the yard. By the next morning it was all gone. I’ve done this twice more this week, and each time the dog fur disappears. This last time, I captured photos.
Somewhere nearby, there is a softly padded crow’s nest. I wonder if the scent of our dogs will imprint on the baby crows.