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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Scary Peanut Butter

Well, here is a funny but true story. One winter I put out peanut butter for the birds, the squirrels, and yes, if there are leftovers, even for the night-prowling opossums and foxes in the neighborhood. By the way, wrens are my favorite bird, but I love all birds indiscriminately, the little brown wrens, mourning doves, sparrows, house finches, and crows; I love them all and they all will eat peanut butter in the cold of winter to build up their fat reserves, if they can get it.

So, how did it happen that I put out peanut butter that particular winter, which was a mild winter in Illinois? Well, I was taking care of my late parents, helping daily so that they were able to stay in their own home for the last years of their lives, when I noticed that Mother had forgotten her habit of making herself peanut butter sandwiches, because there was almost a full jar of quite-stale peanut butter in the pantry. So, I bought Mother a new fresh jar of peanut butter, just in case she wanted it after all, but what to do with so much stale peanut butter?

Ah Ha! I made a platform out of a wide, low cardboard box, wiped the peanut butter in big globs along the edges, and set it outside to see who showed up. I stood at the kitchen window doing dishes, and it was not long before I saw half a dozen big, clever crows stalking around the peanut-buttered box trying to figure it out. The problem for the crows was that it was both alluring and scary. When the crows touched their clean, shiny beaks to the sticky peanut butter then globs of it stuck to them. Apparently the sensation of having their beaks peanut-buttered shut was quite upsetting to the crows and difficult for them to clear out. They stalked around like they do and complained in indignant squawks. But it did not take them long to try something new. They began darting at the peanut-buttered box, striking it with angry but cautious jabs of their beaks. Were they trying to see if they could subdue the peanut butter, to be less sticky? I had to pull up a chair to watch because I was laughing too hard to stand. Eventually the crows figured it out, scooping off peanut butter sideways to get what they wanted, and enjoying every bit of it.

Scary Peanut Butter

image and animation by Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A. 2022



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