Reub's journey

08 November 2013

A thousand dark birds




This morning after the rain there was a great noise outside, such a cacophony of crows that Eddy ran to the door and barked.  The two dogs leashed, we stepped into the wet driveway together.



It seemed like an audience of a thousand dark birds, flapping their way from tree to tree far above, calling frantically to one another.  "Dog! Dog! Dog! Dog!"   Indeed, the dogs were the first to notice. There in the driveway, still limp from life, lay a single silent crow. I put Ed and Reub back in the house.



It seemed important to be careful when I returned. The crows became quieter, but they observed every move as I took pictures, the sad, respectful investigator at the scene of a crime.





She was so perfect.  If I had desecrated one feather, there is no doubt that the watchful flock gathered in the fir trees would have descended in fury.




 I buried her in the soft duff below the leaves, the crowd above dispersing in twos and threes, the drama playing itself out. Her death had been duly noted by all.





Within You, Without You, acrylic painting by Nancy Watterson Scharf, 2012
This was a sad beginning to the day but I am strangely grateful. Cocooned in a warm house, distracted by my easy world, it is good to be reminded of the lives of birds.



58 comments:

  1. awww. as intelligent as crows are, i know they were mourning. and i bet the appreciated your respect.

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    1. They were absolutely mourning. I wonder if they felt appreciation; I don't know.

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  2. What beautiful photos to accompany the end of a life. Crows are extremely smart with good memories as I am sure you know...so they may do you a favor next year.

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    1. It will be something if they reciprocate; I hadn't thought of that. That's a wonderful thought.

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  3. What a phenomenal, beautiful post. The photos themselves could be in a gallery, and the prose you attached to them was lovely. I love crows.

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    1. Stephanie, thank you so much. The painting at the end is one that I saw at a gallery just yesterday and it is eerie how it became meaningful today.

      I also love crows.

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    1. Hi Nicole. Thank you for your comment; I appreciate it.

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  5. What a beautiful post. Thank you for being so respectful.

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    1. Thank you Reya. The need for respect was really obvious--I would hope that everybody would have been so. Well, in a perfect world that would happen.

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  6. Oh. Your pictures, were amazing. Your post...reminded me of the story in Gaiman's The Sandman.

    I hate hearing about animals dying, but I'm so glad I read this, it was beautiful.

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    1. RG, I have yet to read The Sandman but it is on my list. I really like Neil Gaimon & now must read this book soon.

      I know what you mean about sad animal stories. I usually avoid them as well.

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  7. This is a beautifully thoughtful post. Have you read The Animal Dialogues by Craig Childs? In it he describes an encounter with crows - your tale reminded me of it.

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    1. Thank you Pauline. I haven't read The Animal Dialogues, but it sounds like something I would love. I will look for it.

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  8. I love the profound way in which you write. I admire your respect for the deceased crow and her mourning flock. God bless your tender ways. The red leaves in the water and the ones used for burial cover are so beautiful. You experienced nature's cruelty and beauty all at once.

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    1. Thank you so much Gail, for your kind words. I wonder how that bird died.

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  9. Your entire post was definitely poetry as was the language of the crows. Wordsworth said, "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of a powerful feeling."

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    1. And Wordsworth would be right I think. Thanks Granny.

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  10. You took some good photos to memorialize the event. They are certainly something to crow about.

    The concluding artwork seems appropriate to the age that we live in.

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    1. AV I was fascinated by this artist's paintings incorporating birds. I just saw her work on Thursday for the first time at a gallery in Eugene.

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  11. I read an article not so long ago about a researcher trying to find out if birds knew death, understood that one of their own was dead. and the conclusion he came to was that, yes they did. and they mourned in a way, recognizing death much as you experienced.

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    1. Isn't that interesting? Somehow I'm not surprised. I'll have to look up that research now that I've seen it happen.

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  12. They knew enough to come to your home and your driveway. Thank you for being a person birds can trust. I love this blog,

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    1. Hi Linda! To have the trust of crows would be a big thing. Wouldn't that be cool? I am still a bit sad that the bird died where it did, and have tried to figure out what happened. There may have been a hawk or owl involved.

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    1. Yes. Dang. But we have to keep trying?

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  14. Thank you. I love a kindred spirit.

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    1. :-) If I were in PA I would rush over to your house right now.

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  15. Kerry, this made tears gather in my eyes.

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    1. Oh Suze. I have already cried. Nobody else should have to.

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  16. This is just a beautiful, thoughtful post. I also like the way you photographed the animal's parts. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Hello Cuban! Thank you so much. The bird's feet were amazing to me.

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  17. I love birds. I came upon three grouse on my drive home today. I don't think I've ever seen so many together at once, certainly not adult birds.

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    1. Well it seemed like a thousand crows and sounded like it too, but I'm sure there were fewer than that. I exaggerate sometimes. :)

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  18. Hi Kerry, thanks for visiting CC. I love this series, especially the third.

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  19. Thank you for being so kind to that creature and its kin. I have little doubt you did exactly the right thing to put the rest of the group at ease as much as was possible, anyway. Your photos are fantastic. Those talons are just amazing, aren't they?

    I'm not sure if it's an issue in your location but when I come across a dead bird without apparent injury, I wonder about West Nile Disease.

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    1. Hilary: Because it is very rare here I had not thought of West Nile. But your comment makes me wonder if I should have taken the bird in for an autopsy. If this happens again that's what I should probably do. I just assumed a hawk or owl was the culprit although the bird was unmarked by trauma.

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  20. A very strange tale indeed.
    Perhaps the crows were doing the equivalent of funereal keening?

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    1. Friko, that is what it seemed like. The more I read about crows the more I respect their social awareness.

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  21. You've given me a bit of new insight as to why Poe might have chosen the raven for one of my favorite poems.

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  22. We had the same experience the other day, only it was a little mole who'd been excavating our lawn. He was adorable and broke the kids hearts. Their dad and I had to take care of the little body.

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  23. I have a critter cemetery in one end of my garden

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    1. The crow is buried next to our sweet old black lab. I guess we have a critter cemetery now too.

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  24. Replies
    1. Thank you Laura. It doesn't usually pay to be any other way.

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  25. came back to say congrats on your potw!

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  26. A poignant story with gorgeous photos. I once saw a conflagration of crows while walking along a greenbelt in the city. The sky grew dark as they flew above me, and the sound of their wings and cawing was everywhere. It was an event I still experience in memory, though I don't know what happened to cause the flock such commotion. I remembered it again when I saw your photos and read your story. Congratulations on POTW.

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    1. Crows are amazing aren't they? Undoubtedly you experienced a similar drama with your "conflagration of crows." Love that phrase. Then there is also the "murder of crows," another way to put it.

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  27. A VERY well-deserved POTW mention! A huge high-five!! This post touched me when I first read it, so I can see why Hilary chose this.

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    1. Thank you so much, Gail. Now I must get over and thank HIlary.

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  28. BEautiful shots - love that first one!

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    1. Thank you. They look like birds don't they?

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