By Dan Sullivan
Unlike a lot of folks, I actually like commonplace crows. Despite their overbearing antics, obnoxious natures and blabbermouth personalities, they are revealing to me. And as someone seriously lacking in 20/20 acuity, this perception is ever so important.
My friend Darwin, who is Native American and also visually inconvenienced, once taught me about honoring crows. Within his culture, crows are revered as the spirits of those who have passed on before us and about to crossover into the afterlife. Because of Darwin, I have learned to listen carefully to these winged creatures and respect them as far more than dirty birds.
Oftentimes when going on short hikes and wandering into the nearby woods, it feels like I am all alone. If there are creatures around me and unwilling to make a stir, I simply do not see them. However, should cantankerous crows be about, they always make their presence well known. Sometimes it is the echoing cry of a singular crow. More often than not, there is a gathering of these ebony featherheads voicing mayhem. Most people do not know that a group of these cavorting birds are dubbed a “Murder of Crows.” I am pretty sure this terminology stems from a desire to annihilate these flyby fiends whenever they form a collective chorus. On the other hand, I sort of appreciate their vocals, which seem to vary anywhere from a stern warning to frantic battle cries. They serve as personal sentries by letting me know that something is happening in the clandestine enclave of the forest. And again, as someone who has to tune into the woods more so than visualizing it, I am usually grateful for the earful. Then again, if I want to hear what else is going on and quell the caterwauling, I then entertain that previously mentioned concept called a “Murder of Crows.”
Sometimes crows can have an opposite effect. During a recent jaunt in the woods, I encountered a tree-full of the squawkers. Though in extreme cawing mode, everything suddenly went silent. Without screeching another note, they were voicing to me a warning. Besides the crows and I, we were not alone. I momentarily froze and listened intently. Sure enough, some critter or creature was stepping softly through the underbrush. In my neck of the woods, this could mean deer, bear, wolf, or even Bigfoot. I quickly retreated before finding out which. When crows abruptly stop talking, it is time to start walking.
When bird watching, there just might be one more advantage due to my optical challenge. While others may view crows as downright ugly for lacking the patterned and colorful plumage of their fellow fliers, I see them differently and less despicably. Synchronized in their jaw snapping and wing flapping, they are both amicable and annoying. At least from this old bird’s perch, that is my outlook from here and perhaps, something to crow about.