My neighborhood was a walnut orchard once upon a time. The old walnut trees produce a wealth of walnuts and the squirrels and crows vie for possession of the nuts. Since Portland is a large urbanized city, we have large flocks, or murders, of crows. At dawn, they leave their roosts and fly east past my house. At dusk they fly west. I call it “Crow Time.” In the waning light of the day, the birds fly in groups and alone, across the sky towards the sunset, to their evening family roost. It’s just about my favorite time of day.
But, in September and October as the walnuts are ripening all bets are off in regards to which direction the murders fly – as they are flying towards the most productive walnut trees and that could be any direction. One very popular street, just 3 blocks from home, is lined with walnut trees. The pavement is littered with walnut husks and shells. Crows perch in the adjacent trees and on power lines. As I pedal down the street in the evening, I’m bombarded with nuts. The crows have learned to drop the nuts in front of passing vehicles in hopes that the nut will get cracked by the tires of the passing rig. I guess they think my bike will do the job. I find it a little unnerving and flinch as I hear the “kerplop,” “plunk,” “kerplunk,” of the nuts hitting the tarmac, nearby rooftops and hoods of parked cars. Danger aside, it makes me laugh so I continue to turn up this street each evening on my trek home.
The other night, I cruised home well after dark. The crows were gone but as I pedaled onto this street a squirrel launched into its scolding call, something usually reserved for lurking cats and dogs. Perhaps he’d waited long enough for the crows to leave and dealing with a passing human during his feast time was more than he could tolerate.