Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The shadow crows cast

Emeric Spooner, author of In Search of Maine Archaeology: An Amateur's Guide to Artifact Identification, dropped me a line the other day about the curious goings-on in his area of Maine. He had some power outages -- but not from the ice storm!
My fourth book is about the Red Paint People, and how Bucksport was built on a Red Paint Cemetery, and the Mill in Bucksport was built on a Red Paint Cemetery, the first dug in the state.

Last weekend, a flock of 300 or more crows descended on the library I work at, and surrounded the library in the trees. Dozens of people reported seeing them, and Monday morning when I went in to shovel, the entire railing, and walk way was covered in Crow mess, so much that you couldn't walk or touch the railing, going down the walkway, without getting covered in it.

This alone would be cause for great concern, but nothing strange beyond the normal Bucksport everyday, heck we expect to be descended on by crows. It's a given. This morning power was knocked out for 3 towns, Bucksport, Verona and Orland. Thousands of people were without power. I talked with a line guy, fixing the transformers, and he said the Substation at the mill was hit with a huge flock of crows, and they actually blew it up there was so many, and landing on the wires, and messing on everything. The substation is within feet of the Red Paint Cemetery, located at the Mill on Indian Point. Once the fire died down, they saw hundreds of dead and crispy crows littering the area.
What a mess! Were the crows drawn to the Red Paint site? We'll never know.

Crows are admired by many (including myself), but despised by many more as pests. Portland, Maine, is home to huge clouds of roosting crows, which people the bare trees in Deering Oaks come winter evenings. It's a remarkable sight.

In a Time Magazine article from Monday, Mar. 31, 1924, titled "Vermin," an account arose of a contest run by gunpowder makers E. I. duPont de Nemours & Co., Inc. The firm offered $2,500 in merchandise prizes "to the individual or club which, at the end of a three months' season, has killed the most crows or other birds or animals termed 'vermin' in the prospectus of their competition."

Maine's own governor is quoted in the article, as he reacted to a plan for wholesale slaughter of the ebon birds.
To his people of the State of Maine, Governor Percival Proctor Baxter made proclamation as follows: "It would seem that a great corporation like the one that controls the powder industry in America, with millions of assets, would find other ways of increasing its profits instead of by inciting the men and boys of this country to kill one of the farmers' friends, the crow."

"I am indignant that such a prize has been offered, and hope that the people of Maine will not participate in the contest."

Historic Maine Governor Percival Baxter, folks, champion of crows everywhere!

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