26 September 2011


Crow died when he landed on the wrong part of an electric power line just after noon on Wednesday.  It took two and a half hours for the part to be replaced and the electricity to come on again in the four houses that were affected. 

Crow had been inhabiting our yard for more than a week.  He was newly out of the nest, still accustomed to being fed, and he spent most of his -- and our -- waking hours demanding to be fed.  Screaming to be fed. The inside of his mouth was brilliant red, still detectable after death. 

Despite the fact that we had been putting out abundant crow food well within his reach, he wanted his parents to bring it to him, and would fly to wherever they were perched to do his demanding, even if they were much farther away than the food.  One parent -- crow genders are tricky -- would simply fly away after a certain amount of time, while the parent in the picture here would sit patiently, and then let out a withering sequence of caws that would have made any other creature shut up permanently.

Crow did not shut up.  He demanded more, and then would move closer and closer to the parent, apparently trying to groom, if not snuggle. So we don't know if he ever quite learned to feed himself. 

Our yard was raucous with crows all summer, but since Wednesday noon, we haven't seen a one and the quiet is disturbing. I have seen the parent in these pictures down in the park, three blocks away.

These crows were tool-users.  We frequently saw them poking in the chimney of the house next door, and under the edge of the roof with sticks about 4 inches long. Most mornings they would wake us up by skiing down the roof over the bedroom, claws scraping along the slates, and they have spent much time pecking on things under my desk window, just out of sight.  We put food for the crows on the roof of the shed under the lilac bushes, and it took them several weeks to feel secure about coming down into such close quarters.  Often Squirrel or Ms. Squirrel would get to the food first -- squirrel genders are quite easy -- and then it took the crows a few more days to come down and eat with the squirrels.  The squirrels hated it and the crows did, too, but neither side was willing to concede.

Alexandra dug a hole for Crow where we used to keep the beehive. He was surprisingly light in the hand.  Some famous ornithologist said that if humans were birds, very few of us would be intelligent enough to be allowed to be crows.  We had great expectations for Crow.

Crow's Theology

Crow realized God loved him-
Otherwise, he would have dropped dead.
So that was proved.
Crow reclined, marvelling, on his heart-beat.

And he realized that God spoke Crow-
Just existing was His revelation.

But what Loved the stones and spoke stone?
They seemed to exist too.
And what spoke that strange silence
After his clamour of caws faded?

And what loved the shot-pellets
That dribbled from those strung-up mummifying crows?
What spoke the silence of lead?

Crow realized there were two Gods-
One of them much bigger than the other
Loving his enemies
And having all the weapons. 

                                       Ted Hughes


  1. Crows are the most intelligent of all the birds. They have associations with medieval accounts of the Holy Grail, such as Bran the Blessed. Bran and Vran are ancient words for Crow.


I will not publish Anonymous comments.