Agrippa today.

‘Cause you can’t, you won’t, and you don’t stop..’

I’ve delayed this entry for to long. I’ve tried to write about Agrippa every damn day, but my mind refuses to settle. Life in the aviary is in constant flux. Days of quiet follow days of agitation and back again. One moment I think I can handle the harassment, the next I’m back to scouring websites to look for a high rise apartment.

To my horror and amazement the crows three journeyed over the hill and set up in the new neighborhood along with us last summer. Agrippa is the senior and lead bird in this strange adventure. The three of them integrate easy enough and join a sizable clan north on Chandler Blvd. Agrippa is determined to reinforce our bond daily, but his obstacle is a large, mature raven, King Henry. Corvids need to communicate with one another constantly to enforce social and family bonds and is most likely the true explanation Agrippa comes for me daily. 

Agrippa is forced to adapt to recent changes, primarily the ankle injury, steps to recovery, and lack of drive time in the car. After I disappear for months, then return temporarily disabled and limited to assisted travel for trips around town, he’s less aggressive. Injury is a universal truth among all things living I suppose. To break or succumb to damage is to be alive; and a mishap changes routine and re-shapes your future everyday environment. Incessant crow and raven fights, the skylight air drops, the dogs, and overall neighborhood disturbance is far less. Lately, he employs alternative methods to communicate, but one thing I do know, Agrippa is afraid I’ll leave again.

The big routine shift is less skylight bomb activity and dog barks. Annoying and ever present, the ‘pings’ off the skylight tie directly to me leaving and returning to the apartment. The air bomb frequency is a mystery. Why less and why now? Before the accident, I’d leave my home office once a day and drive around town either to the grocery store, to the park to write in my journal, or run an errand. Then, I’d return to the apartment and the ‘rain of terror’ on the skylight starts up like clockwork. The barking starts. The little birds chirp angrily.

The ravens. The ravens. The ravens. I’d think “god damn those fucking ravens!”. They want me gone. They want me to take the crows and fuck off to who cares where, but not here. King Henry and Queen Bella come around and perch on the roof or a near by hydro pole to raise the alarm. Before my lengthy absence Henry cawed at my window at least three times a day. I haven’t seen or heard a raven call for over a month. Why? What’s happened?

Here’s the rub. I’m wrong about the ravens and I’m glad to be this wrong. Guess the bombing culprits. The fucking crows! My crows! Agrippa is persistent and determined. The main characteristic of the species. When we lived in Venice he bullied me hard. He knew his loud caws upset my neighbors. The fucker wanted me to come outside and learned quick the way to make me. Yes. I’m saying a crow bullied me. I match his will and when he refuses to leave me alone, I close the windows and blinds. He darkens my skylight determined to communicate the message, ‘I’m here. I’ll always be here no matter where you go.”

I search for information and learn. I read a research paper recently, a dissertation, and the study reveals ravens are bigger and outweigh a crow by a couple of pounds, but crows have mob mentality and socialization behind them. Ravens do forge in groups, but on average they live day-to-day with only one other – usually the life partner. According to the data, crows generally bring down the hammer on ravens rather than vice versa. Agrippa has rallied the mob a few times, including the morning I arrived home in April and one other time when we moved over the hill.

Agrippa laments the past. The good times. The regular travel, the conversation, and hanging out at Penmar Park. I have an eerie feeling Agrippa had his eye on me before I ever knew he existed. I use to ride to the park daily after a round trip ride from Venice to the Pacific Palisades. I’d sit in the bleachers, smoke a cigarette, and speak chirp. A pocket of seeds mixed with nuts, I’d watch dog walkers and people who work out in parks early before work. Good times then. I had no idea I’d never be alone again when the crow clan wrapped me in a black cloak.

Why? Why this bond? Why move house with two other crows in tow to come to this place? Why is he so determined to stay here with me, and now of course, my husband. Back in Venice, Agrippa and other crows at that time, caw loudly when my husband is dropped off at the bus stop. I always knew he’d be coming through the door in minutes. And true more than not, he’d be at the door. At around 4 p.m daily, except for weekends, my husband’s returns to the apartment and Agrippa waits for him at the Metro station. He still calls out to let me know he’s on his way home. This is true.

I understand more and more Agrippa has to reinforce the bonds of family, and I’m family now. I’m fucking family! And family is a bond unbroken for life.

Thursdays

If anyone’s read the blog entries I’ve written, ‘yeah crazy’, is likely their first thought before moving on. But so what? I’ll wager I’m the only chick living in North Hollywood, or in all LA for that matter, stuck in the middle of an all out territory dispute with nature. Science and research need to take a closer look at Corvid’s capacity to understand human behavior beyond our own human understanding of ourselves. A record of corvid social behavior and mating patterns is important, but observing interaction between human and crow is far more interesting. Agrippa and I have an unlikely bond, one-of-a kind, forged by the simple act of recognition of each other as individuals among their own respective and populous kind.

Thursday is a day of the week I refer to as ‘mental health Thursday’. I use to attend group therapy on Thursdays, but stopped last year after the move over the hill. Thursday is still mental health day, but I see one person rather than a group. When I think about the old Thursday group sessions, I remember crow calls outside the building while Wayne and I walk to and from our cars. After therapy we’d drive to a breakfast joint and Agrippa flys ahead of the car to let me know he’ll meet us on arrival.

The level of crow and bird drama Thursday morning is practically non-existent in the new apartment. Thursdays in Venice were horrible in comparison, and Agrippa’s harassment outside the apartment created real tension in the overcrowded beach community. I know I heard applause when I left the area for my 7:00 a.m. appointment. Agrippa is excited on Thursdays, and though he still caws and makes a fuss in the morning, he’s limited by Henry’s ability to tolerate his presence.

When I met Wayne on Thursday, I ask him why he thinks our meeting day holds so much importance to Agrippa? His interpretation and reply is ‘he’s holding on to the familiar’. The familiar. The repetition. The routine. His interpretation made sense.

Wayne is the other human bond I consistently reinforce, and when I’m away from LA Agrippa and his gang of NoHo baddies search him out.  4 to 5 crows show up at his apartment and even stalk him to work and home again. When I’m home on Thursdays, Agrippa knows there is a 90 percent chance I’ll leave the apartment early and meet people, or a person, at a location. The location changes; an office building, a coffee shop, a park, a restaurant, but always a human connection. I’ve learned Thursday is an important day of the week for him to reaffirm our bond. I imagine him thinking, ‘move to a new place and take away our regular bike rides, but I’ll be damn to hell if you fuck with our Thursdays’. At least, that’s what I hear when he stands his ground against Henry perched on a telephone pole close to the balcony and caws ‘Thursday! Thursday! Thursday!’