What happens when we talk to animals?
When the crow whisperer appeared at the side gate to Adam Florin and Dani Fisher’s house, in Oakland, California, she was dressed head to toe in black, wearing a hoodie, gloves, and a mask. This was a few weeks into the coronavirus lockdown, so Adam initially took her garb to be a sign of precautionary vigilance. In fact, it was a disguise. “It’s so the crows don’t recognize me and—no offense—start associating me with you.”
Adam found this odd, but he and his wife were out of options. Things had gotten bad. Two days earlier, the couple had just woken up their four-month-old, Lina, from a nap when they heard a concerning ruckus behind the house. At the far end of the yard, Dani—who is one of my oldest friends—spotted a menacing cloud of crows, cawing and encircling their dog, Mona. It looked as though they might carry her away or, worse, kill her on the spot. (“Do you know what a group of crows is called?” Dani later asked me, stricken. “A murder.”) She shouted, raced toward Mona, and dispersed the crows just long enough to get her dog inside.
From then on, each time Adam or Dani walked onto their back deck, a crow would call out and the murder would reappear as if summoned, squawking so loudly that it was impossible to carry on a conversation.