Writing a Murder

by Jackie Houchin


I began feeding the crows one morning when my Hubby told me that his Cheerios were too stale to eat. I carried the box outside and dumped about a half cup of the O’s in the middle of the street. A friend occasionally throws out stale crackers for birds, so perhaps a few would show up for the cereal.

Halfway to my front door, I turned to look.  A half dozen jet black birds were enjoying breakfast, compliments of moi. I smiled, pleased

IMG_4568A few days later I threw out some stale bread crusts that I’d cut into tiny squares. (I’d hesitated only briefly as the thought of making croutons crossed my mind.) Too much trouble, and besides, maybe my new feathered friends would come again.

They did. Plus a few more.

I bought a cheap 3# bag of kitty kibble and began casting a handful or two out in the street each day. Soon I had eight or nine pecking away. Thinking they needed a bit of protein, I added a bag of raw, unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds to the next kibble bag.  After a month there was a growing murder* of crows waiting patiently for my handout each morning between 6:30 and 7:00.

It was fun.

My actions were not altogether altruistic, however. I’m not a bird lover.  I’d read in several articles that crows often show their gratitude by bringing small gifts for “their” humans. See what a young girl received from “her” crows here. They can also recognize faces (friendly or not) and react to them. For six scary things these cunning creatures can do, click here.

I had visions of coins, golden rings or pins, and yes, even a diamond tennis bracelet.  HA!  Okay, I did get a few Macadamia Nut shells, a small piece of ½ -inch plastic pipe, and – now this is pretty cool – a rose made out of a red pipe cleaner! But no gold and no diamonds.

Once, out of nowhere a flock of seagulls arrived and started eating, pushing the crows to the perimeter.  (Seagulls  are TWICE the size of crows! Seriously!)  I marched out to my driveway and raised my hands to shoo them away.  The sea birds flew off while the crows stayed, unafraid. Casually they walked back to eat what was left. Two came to within three feet of me and cocked their heads this way and that before going back to eat. A thank you?  A closer look at a “friendly” face?

When OSH went out of business I picked up a 5# bag of wild bird seed at a good price and added that to the next two kibble bags.  They really loved that… and told their friends.

IMG_4571 (Edited)Now I have twenty-four black birds each morning. And they are beginning to make a lot of noise if I’m late.  A man down the street came out with hands on hips and frowned at me. Dog walkers give my house that “look” as their dogs pull on their leashes towards the kibble mix.

This has got to stop, I thought one morning.  I will not feed them today. Maybe if  I skip a few days, then a week they’ll stop coming.

The first day they were cool with that. Occasionally I do have to go away early before I can feed them. But the next day, they were pretty loud.  They sit in my Magnolia tree, on the street lamp, and the rooftops of  my and my neighbors’ houses. Some boldly strut on my lawn, close to the porch. When I walk into the street with the kibble others come cruising out of nowhere.

It’s beginning to feel a little creepy.  I worry about stopping the food altogether. So far none have been aggressive, just noisy, but I’ve heard they can swoop and peck. Have a created a monster? Will I experience another kind of murder?

Oh dear! Excuse me, I have to go feed the crows now. I can count well over thirty of them through my window, all eyeing me as I look at them.

Yikes, the bag is getting nearly empty. I must go shopping today!  What would happen if I ran out of kibble!!


Writer thinking

Where do writers get their ideas? 

From lots of places, including researching curious facts and from their own experiences. All it takes is a touch of imagination.

To read the “murder” mystery I wrote from my research and experience with these inky birds (and my own imagination), follow this link to my personal blog and the story titled, THE CROW:   https://jackiehouchin2.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/the-crow/


*a flock of crows is called a “murder.”

Author: Jackie Houchin

First, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so my views and opinions are filtered through what God's Word says and I believe. I'm a wife, a mom, a grandma and now a great grandma. I write articles and reviews, and I dabble in short fiction. I enjoy living near the ocean, doing gardening (for beauty and food) and traveling - in other countries, if possible. My heart is for Christian missions, and I'm compiling a collections of Missionary Kids' stories to publish. (I also like kittens and cats and reading mysteries.)

8 thoughts on “Writing a Murder”

  1. Ah, I can totally identify with your story. Those wily birds, as well as blue birds and squirrels and pigeons, feast in our backyard. But the “monster” aspect is so titillating. After all, Hitchcock made a movie about a flock of very aggressive birds. What if? What if? Thanks for the fun read this morning, Jaxon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought of you and you visiting menagerie as I wrote the above. Hitchcock’s “The Birds” also crossed my mind. But, as you know…. it’s our imagination that gets us writers into trouble. Haha.


  2. I can identify too–Sparrows, ravens, owls, finches, doves, black birds, and crows–at least 50 lbs of bird food a week. Then there’s the hummingbirds…

    And yes, Ravens counseled one of my protagonists quite a bit.

    Great post to start my morning off with before going out to feed/visit with the birds!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yeah…. Reticence of Ravens by M. M. Gornell… a wonderful story of a man escaping into California’s Mojave Desert. He’s a reluctant ex-FBI man who must discover the the guilty party in a murder from his past. READ IT!! The Ravens gave it a great review! (Wow, Madeline… 50# of bird food a week???!!!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello from Stockholm. You’re a lot kinder to the crows than I would be. Aside from their invasive behavior, where they chase off and actually destroy many native species of birds, they also love to destroy fruit on my orchard trees. I wouldn’t mind if they ate a few, but they just peck a bit and leave the rest to rot. I suspect there’s a story brewing in how you’ll deal with them in the future. Keep us posted : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Miko, I agree with you on a lot of your points. Read the murder mystery short story I wrote and linked to this post (at the bottom) about a FICTIONAL crow who was indeed diabolical. As woman and bird fight to the death….. which one will win???


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