On Writing Crows

img_2832-2The other day, walking to work in the morning, I could have sworn I heard a crow say “Hi” to me.

The other morning, waiting at the bus station downtown, a flock of crows rose out of the trees and flew through the mist between buildings, their caws echoing through the cavernous streets of the city.

Last year, I saw a group of crows bathing in a stream, using the tiny waterfall that formed from a pile of rocks as a shower.

Once, I watched a crow drop a shelled nut from streetlight, circling after it, catching it up, and dropping it again. I didn’t stay long enough to see the shell break, but the crow seemed pretty perseverant.

I’ve been preoccupied with crows for over a year now. I’ve read up on their habits, their habitats, their brains. Crows are fascinating creatures and, here in the Northwest, they’re one of the most ubiquitous. On walks, I usually see more crows than squirrels. In the cities, they seem to vastly outnumber the pigeons.

I’ve been dive-bombed by crows in the springtime. I’ve been chased by them (let me tell you, being chased by a crow is an uncanny and terrifying experience). I was even clawed by one once while crossing a bridge (it had a reputation for being particularly aggressive in guarding its post).

But every time I sit down to write a story about crows, they elude me. I have countless unfinished tales about these mysterious, curious, terrifyingly intelligent birds, these creatures that seem to watch me just as much as I watch them, but the tales never feel quite finished. They’re always missing something, some secret of corvid-ness, some crow craft that I still can’t find.

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