BETWEEN THE LINES - Eating crow? Why not literally?

Thursday, November 1, 2001

Students at Buena Vista University complain that their meal-punch plan doesn't go far enough.

Residents of Storm Lake complain about the infestation of crows again this year. Seems that we could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Crow a la carte.

Roast crow. Crowsickles. Crow dogs. Crow casserole. Crow pizza. Free of charge. We have enough to last us a couple of semesters, easy.

We could bring a whole new meaning to the term, "eating crow." If the experiment goes well, we might even exchange the beaver mascot for a giant blackbird.

As you may have heard, the Storm Lake police have been given carte blanche by the city council to shoot down the offending crows at will. After reading them their rights, of course.

I've got no problem with that, but I do feel that the police have more important duties they could be assigned to attend to - like shooting the people who turn left without using their turn signals on Lake Avenue (just winging them, of course.)

Every few years Storm Lake seems to have a bird crisis of some sort. Remember the wailing over starlings or sparrows or whatever they were, flocking downtown by the thousands? We had fire trucks out blasting them, balloons, noisemakers, fake owls, and we finally all but cut our lovely downtown trees into stumps as the droppings piled up ankle-deep. Might have been cheaper to buy tiny diapers. No sooner had they moved on than we were overrun - er, overflown - with pigeons, the dirty blighters. We did everything including hammering spikes onto our lovely historical buildings to keep the annoying creatures from roosting and pooping.

Now, it's the crow crisis. I somehow didn't notice it until the city council brought it up, but now that they mention it, there do seem to be a lot of these black noiseboxes.

Crisis in my mind tends to be things like paying the rent, keeping my children from becoming professional wrestlers, the potential for the filming of a Rocky VI, and filling this column space every goshdarn day. Birds seldom come to roost amid the chief worries of my age.

I have to admit, though, these aren't the Miss Congeniality of birds here. They are more like the Andrew "Dice" Clay of birds. Even PETA would like to kick their little crow heinies.

Crows don't come in pretty colors or make pretty songs or inspire much awe at the backyard feeder. They strut around the parks, getting fat and sassy on discarded potato chips. They pick arrogantly at dead stuff in the street, barely bothering themselves to step aside when you drive through, bloating up to the point where you wonder if they can even fly.

In fact, I've seen some the size of chickens around Storm Lake, or was it turkey buzzards? If they get much bigger, they're going to be making eyes at our rare trumpeter swans, and that can only lead to doomed mixed relationships and... what?... trumpeter crows? Oh, swell.

Someone once compared Keith Richards and Ron Woods, the haggard guitarists for the persistent rock group "The Rolling Stones," to "diseased crows." It is such an apt description that we had best do away with those two as well if they should ever come inside our city limits. Honestly, who can tell their songs from the crow caws any more, anyway.

Storm Lake is apparently a bird's Disneyland. Starlings, pigeons, crows - what next? Will we have to blast gangs of mallards? The cliques of snow geese? Waves of thuggish goldfinches? California condors? I'm not sure even the appetites of the college football players can keep up.

Alfred Hitchcock would have loved Storm Lake. We make his film "Birds" look like a comedy. We could always try to make the best of it, and declare a "Crow Days" festival and sell foam hats shaped like giant crows with little beady light bulb eyes that blink red.

Naw, I like the crow casserole idea better. Much more practical.

Frankly, if we're going to battle crows, we may as well do it right. Forget police shooting the birds; call in the National Guard. Surely there are some Army tanks and anti-aircraft surface-to-air missiles sitting around the Storm Lake armory gathering dust. A few Scuds will definitely send the crows a message that we mean business.

Let's hope the police are successful in their efforts to pester the crows into going somewhere else to roost. Like Spencer, say.

If not, it looks like the lead is going to be flying, and we wouldn't advise citizens to be hanging around in trees dressed in black.

It's always something, isn't it? Keeps life interesting.

Adios, crows. Your days of leisure in this lovely resort are apparently numbered.

Quoth the raven, nevermore.