By Eve Hallock
Sure, you know your herbs and minerals. Your cat loves you and your toads and newts are secure in your clutches, but are you questioning your witchy status among your local avifauna? Fear no more, you worrywart! With this simple How-to Guide, make your coven proud and envious this Halloween, and your arch nemesis, Gretchen, furious for stealing her only friends.
Step 1. Go on long, meandering walks.
Just before sunset, I recommend strolling past your area’s pine groves, graveyards, fast-food parking lots, cliff sides of misery, ice-fishing holes, and compost piles. Before long, you should locate the resident murders of crows. Keep a respectful distance, but make sure to gaze longingly. Memorize their ca-caawwws, familial relations, and movements. If you are a cyber-witch, you can cheat by using http://www.ebird.org to track them (I won’t tell), but make sure that b*tch Gretchen can’t see your checklists.
Step 2. Experiment with scare-crows
This may seem risky, but hear me out. Farmers and gardeners have posted silly, corporeal imitations in their fields to keep crows away for centuries, but these birds are clever and learn quickly. Just in case, make sure to clear any left-over piñatas, mannequins, or uh…bodies from your fields, except for any manifestations of Ke$ha. Crows love her. Next, dump and plant all offending objects in Gretchen’s yard when night falls.
Step 3. Make your forest a haven for the raven
Now that your property can no longer upset crows, it is time to attract them. At dawn, leave out bits of meat, water, fruit, fish, ketchup, and fishermen’s tears to indulge them, and keep it coming! Paint a hauntingly beautiful mural of Ke$ha on the side of your barn. Whittle a life-sized crow (or two) out of cedar wood, paint black, and post in perfect illumination of the blood moon. Sand to smooth any surfaces your incoming murder may want to perch on. This is essential, and if you are lucky, the whole extended family will stay to roost. You will need to provide comfortable, sturdy, and horizontal places where they can gather to socialize, rest, sit, and help you plot Gretchen’s demise.
Step 4. Look & sound the part
You are mostly likely already wearing black as you read this, however, forest greens and blood reds are also nice additions to your crow-friendly wardrobe. What is more crucial are your communication skills. Practice your calls! For you studious enchantresses, there is a huge database of crow conversations from the Macaulay Library of Sound to listen to while you brew and boil.
Step 5. Evade the authorities
It is illegal to have pet crows without the proper permits, and frowned upon to tame wild animals. However, these are not pets, nor should they be tamed, controlled, or imprisoned in any way, especially not for “science” (*narrows eyes* I’m glowering at you, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, harumpf!). If the police or U.S. Fish & Wildlife officers do find concern with your behavior, you can remind them that it is perfectly legal to have friends, and that maybe they should try it out sometime.
Step 6. Maintain relationships
Respect their freedom, and don’t even think about getting on their bad side, because they will outsmart you (having evolved separately from Hominids to use and create tools, learn socially, and solve complex problems). Consider your neighborhood crows as colleagues, and perhaps even dear friends. As long as you follow these straightforward steps, beautiful and long-lasting relationships should flourish. Sipping a morning cup of tea under the old oak in your yard and chatting with your friends perched above, picking through Gretchen’s jewelry that they stole for you the night before, watching them sharpen their beaks in your rock garden, learning the inter-murder gossip, rejecting all other units of measuring distance in favor of “as the crow flies”, babysitting your godchicks, throwing the most haunted Halloween rager…sigh. You could experience all these moments and more someday soon, so get out there and ca-caaaww!
Coven Q & A
Q: Can I make the crows do my bidding?
A: No, but you can ask politely.
Q: Does blood attract them?
Q: Is a murder of crows really an omen of death?
A: Yes; bad news for the Gretchen in your life.
Q: Will my new corvid pals be compatible with my many black cats?
A: No, unfortunately. Cats should be kept indoors to support the wellbeing of avian communities and crows belong free and untethered. Both can boost your hexes separately.
Q: What are the magical properties of crow feathers?
A: According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, it is illegal to possess most live or dead birds, feathers, eggs, or nests. However, (*wink*) a list of spells and properties can be obtained by only the most worthy and sustainable of witches who are gifted feathers after a molt.
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Witch’s review: “This how-to-guide did ruin my marriage, significantly subtract my free time, and put those nosy posers in my neighborhood watch on high alert, but I have never felt happier or more in control of my life. I can attest to the success of this article’s advice and recommend turning your attention to your crow relationships like I did.” -Brenda from Puyallup, Washington