Last week I traveled over the hill from North Hollywood to Westwood. It’s been awhile and I know the drive makes the crows happy. It’s like having three dogs! I took the 405 and saw them dip and fly through the Santa Monica hills as I approached the Skirball Center Dr. exit. I didn’t see them sneak around, or fly close by when I parked and walked to the dentist office. But when I got back in the car and headed to Venice to tour the old neighborhood and drop off a package at UPS on Lincoln Blvd, I saw them. Even though I’ve had it with their bird shenanigans and years of being under constant observation and torment, I always feel good when I see them reunite with their clan. And they have a sizable clan; maybe over 100 crows between Marina Del Ray to Santa Monica. The sky over Lincoln Blvd at Pico clouded over with at least 25 crows, swooping and dog fighting in the ocean breeze. I’m familiar with this crow clan, and use to visit the roost on the north side of the Penmar Golf Course almost daily for at least a year. March 2016 is when we bonded; And a bond with crow, I’ve now learned, is for life. Among the sentinel pines, calling out in my own bird-call language, I was perceived as a nonthreatening observer who seemed to want to communicate with the neighborhood birds.
For the crows who moved with me to North Hollywood in June 2018, Venice is their old neighborhood too. I secretly hope they decide to stay and not return with me home to NoHo every time I’ve travel to the west side. These days I’m less hopeful they recognize living by the ocean with their own family where the air is fresh, is a much better life than here in the dry, hot, inhospitable and hostile environment of the valley. I’ve traveled to Santa Ana, Irvine, Orange, Malibu, Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks, Downtown, and anywhere else I’ve driven or cycled in LA County in the last two years, and these crows have watched from above the freeway and fly a straight line over hills and roads to meet me at my destination. It’s crazy and I know my account of the truth sounds fucking crazy. All true.
These birds have unbelievable tracking and memory skills. I took the metro (underground) to the west side once last summer and thought I could ditch them for a moment of sanity. Wrong. Granted, the routine on Thursdays over the last two years is fairly consistent, and going to the site I’d most likely emerge isn’t hard for them to conclude, but it made me start to realize the depth of the bond and cleverness of these animals. I’ve always know they ride with me on all my bike trips, and I remember the day I realized I Agrippa, Germanicus and little Claudius (who is possibly female) followed me in my car. I think the truth punched me in the face when, perched outside the second story office window I worked downtown, the three of them called to me and let me know.
I’ll admit I do like to travel with them. We talk more when we’re away together. I talk to them rather than completely ignore them when we’re at home. You can think me heartless to pretend they’re not there, ignore them and keep to myself, but I have a few very good reasons. The bossy attitude, the loud crow calls as close to my home office as possible just to antagonize me, and piss off neighbors and dogs, is just the surface of why I’ve created a flimsy barrier by demonstrating certain behavior and emotion they recognize as ‘unhappy’. Yes. My crows know when I’m unhappy and have backed off substantially since moving away from Venice. I’ll see them again on Thursday and so will Wade, a friend who has been sucked into my avian world by association.