When Dr. Kristy Hiltz set up her back yard bird feeder, it was really her crows that she was intending to feed. But the squirrels in the yard have been her most frequent visitors. Each morning, she puts a scoop of peanuts on the platform in the tree and watches with delight as the crows sit in nearby trees and swoop in when she steps back. The squirrels seem to dominate and the greedy little creatures will sit and eat their fill while the birds wait patiently for a chance.
The crows are smart enough to know that the squirrel isn't afraid of them. He might even lunge at one of them if they land beside him, but if they arrive in a group of three or four, he has gets nervous enough to scamper away and wait.
These crows have called to the others and now there are at least five making an approach or circling over the squirrel's head. He knows time is running out and he stands upright to get a better look as she munches on a peanut. He will have to make sure one doesn't attack from while he's not looking. Watching the action above him suddenly makes him dizzy and he rolls backwards, into the camera and almost falls off the platform. Luckily, he catches himself on the edge of the precipice and manages to hang on. He looks right into the camera with a comical stunned look as if he's asking us what happened. His drunken roll and dazed expression are hilarious!
The feeder also attracts its share of blue jays, chickadees and even a few woodpeckers. All of these beautiful birds put on a colorful performance as they fly in and out, carrying off a peanut or two with every landing.
Seven years ago Dr. Kristy raised five orphaned baby crows whose nest had fallen and the parents did not return. That summer, she and her family fed them and taught them how to forage for food. The family inadvertently taught them to say "hello" and now they occasionally speak to her. They even speak to the squirrels. They were named "the Freds", but became known as Russell Crow, Crow Magnon, Baby Fred and Adventure Fred.
The rehabbed crows joined a family of wild crows and became completely self sufficient, even migrating south each winter. They will always enjoy a peanut treat in the morning, but they are truly able to care for themselves now.