Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A corvid day

Crows are such remarkable folk! Their cousins, the ravens have more literary éclat – celebrated in myth and legend, but crows are just as wonderful. My favorite raven is Grip, a major character in Barnaby Rudge – one of my favorite Dickens novels and one that unfortunately no one reads. Dennis, Rebecca and I visited the Dickens House in London, and there was Grip himself, stuffed. I was thrilled. (No one else seemed that astonished.) He had been a beloved pet of the Dickens children and was immortalized by the taxidermist as well as by Dickens. Grip was further, and probably more immortally immortalized as the most famous raven of all. Poe, who had done a review of Barnaby Rudge, no doubt took note of Grip “tapping at the door.” My personal acquaintance with ravens is limited to the remains of Grip and to sightings high overhead on trips to the mountains. But crows are quite another thing. My neighborhood is a favorite hangout of crows, and I have come to know some of them well. When Becca was younger, she found a baby crow who had fallen from its nest, and didn’t seem to be able to get back in. We took it home and thence to a bird sanctuary, but its parents were resentful and quite unmindful of our good intentions. Whenever we left the house, they would scold us furiously, often following us for several blocks. They seemed to really know and loathe us. Since then, I have read that crows actually recognize and remember individuals, but I had long known that this is true. Moreover, they tell their friends and relations who the bad people are. So if you offend one crow, you have probably made many enemies. Recently, they have been angry at Margaret and me when we go on our walkies. Perhaps Margaret insulted one of them without my noticing. I certainly have been showing them proper respect lately. I even took their portraits as they screeched at me.

5 comments:

rebecca said...

Rachael and I saw a creepy man cuddling a baby crow across the street, while its parents shouted and cursed. They're probably all sensitized now, and mad at everrybody.

Knitman said...

John and I were recently wondering about the difference between crows and ravens. We have loads of one of them around here, maybe both of them? I see ones which are not wholly black, they seem to be black and grey.

Janet said...

Great photos. Here in Dublin it's the magpies who plague us. I love that Dickens House Museum in London!

Janet said...

On the subject of Dickens, I came across the following on another group site:

I've been singing. I've been taking a part in White sand and grey
sand. I don't know anything about it. Never mind. I'll take any part
in anything. It's all the same, if you're loud enough.

Charles Dickens, _Little Dorrit_

I rather liked that excerpt.

Laura said...

Years ago while living near Green Lake I thought crows were a curse-caw, caw, cawing at the crack of dawn outside my window. Now I'm endlessy fascinated by how they prosper among us and their fearless and perfect timing in traffic going for some tasty morsel. Beautiful picture!