The Rehabilitation of Crows

Sight_2016_05_12_115649_622 (3)My son took this, couldn’t find a crow willing to pose, but the window lent a suitably Gothic tone…

Think of crows, and you think automatically of the large black birds, perching menacingly amongst ruined castle battlements, cawing threateningly from deserted churchyards. They are a traditional Gothic symbol, hopping through the pages of literature, their larger cousin immortalised in Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’. Ravens have resided at the Tower of London since around the time of Charles II, the legend attached to them being that if they leave, then both Tower and monarchy will fall. However, their wings are clipped so they are physically unable to fly away, which seems a little unfair to me…

Crows, ravens and magpies are all members of the Corvidae family, a common trait of this species being their intelligence. Perhaps this is what some may find off-putting about them, the gleam of avian awareness completely alien in a feathered face. Crows can and will hold grudges (not unlike cats, actually) and have a brain capable of reasoned thought processes to achieve a goal. I’ve had several brushes with magpies, bold and dapper in their black and white outfits – I was quite annoyed with one, as it systematically pulled the lining from my mother’s hanging basket; yet amused as I watched one clearing the guttering of the house opposite: “Honestly, if you want a job doing well, do it yourself…”

I have been lucky enough to observe crows at close quarters, although I am slightly disconcerted by the fact that the crows in our area seem to have a predilection for women’s underwear as they fly about shouting “BRA BRA BRA!” A crow was an unusual visitor to my mother’s garden. He was beautiful, gleaming black from head to tail, feathers perfectly aligned and smartly kept. He marched along the garden path, turning his head left and right, as if to acknowledge the greetings of lesser birds. I was impressed by the strength of his scaly feet, and the dangerous, powerful beak as he stabbed up a choice morsel from the floor. Then as he spread his wings to fly away, a rainbow sheen coated his feathers, not unlike Labradorite, a seemingly dull little stone until it catches the right light, and then it bursts into kaleidoscopic colour.

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My son’s Labradorite, the colour not unlike the blue sheen of a Magpie’s tail…

One particular crow memory has stayed with me, mainly because I was helpless with laughter… my son and I first noticed him, just standing by the roadside, looking hopelessly down at his feet. I thought he was injured at first, such was his air of defeat, shoulders slumped, wings hanging listlessly. As we watched, he straightened up visibly and began pacing aimlessly back and forth, stopping every so often to poke about in the grass.

Where’s she put them, then? Rotten cow, she knows I need the car for work…” We could see the crow sigh visibly, as if in frustration.

Would she have left them here?” A momentary hope brightened his eye, as he spent a while searching under a particularly promising leaf… No joy. He rummaged around each wing in turn, one last search of his pockets, perhaps. No joy.

Oh, f*@k it! I’ll have to bus it then, but I am definitely going to the pub after work, I don’t care what Brenda’s got in for dinner, that’ll show her!”

With that, he ruffled his feathers and flew off, an aura of comic annoyance visible. We had to admire him for his persistence and share in his obvious dis-satisfaction with his place in life. So, next time you see a crow, don’t play the soundtrack from a horror film in your head or shudder as their flight path falls across you. Instead, just think… they have families and problems too…

I have two black cats, black as crows, with the same delicate rainbow sheen to their fur in the sun. They carry their Gothic stigma lightly most of the time, yet sometimes… yet sometimes… I wonder… 

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This is Lily looking demonic… or cute… hard to tell

All photos were taken by my son!

7 thoughts on “The Rehabilitation of Crows

      1. Crows, magpies, ravens and jackdaws are all members of the Corvidae family…blackbirds, although similar looking, are actually a type of thrush!(I only know because I looked it up before I wrote the post!)


  1. I just ran into a crow this morning and it made me think of your post! I was walking into work and it flew to the edge of the roof and cawed at me (is cawed a word?) and then when I walked under the alcove to the door it flew to a adjacent tree and cawed at me again. It probably wasn’t at me, but I like to think so.

    Liked by 1 person

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