Friday, January 8, 2010


I spend a good bit of my time driving on the Interstate. Highway driving can get very boring and even soporific if I don’t have something to distract me. Sometimes I pray; sometimes I work on a sermon or something I am writing in my head as I am driving. It keeps me awake and present to my driving. But my constant companions are crows.

Winter or summer, crows are always my companions as I drive.
I seldom see a crow alone. They are usually three or more in the vicinity. When I hear them in town when I am sitting on my screened in porch they dominate the bird voices in the spring. But surprisingly, when they do come to the feeder, they do not fight with other birds. But I often see crows being chased by other birds on the road.

Crows are carrion eaters, but according to Cornell’s online info about birds, they don’t have the equipment to pierce the skin of a squirrel so they have to wait until something else opens a dead animal up for them to eat the flesh. I often see the big black beasts feeding on road kill. I am somehow heartened by Nature’s ability to keep us cleaned up.

As a child I listened to farmers at my grandmother’s curse the crows that were in their corn. I learned about scarecrows quite early and always found them rather silly. I guess I still equate them with Ray Milan, but for some reason I never got a bad feeling about crows. I guess I didn’t see the movie “Birds.”

One evening about a few weeks ago, J and I stopped for supper on a road trip. Overhead was a flock of crows that darkened the twilight. It was awesome. There must have been hundreds of thousands of crows in that flock. I am used to seeing only 3 or 4 at a time. I am accustomed to seeing starlings flock with their swooping flight patterns. These crows, however, did not have the grace of those starlings, but they could navigate together with an amazing precision. It was a quiet flyover. Instead of their usual cawing presence, the flock’s presence was marked with only chirps— crow-like grunts to mark their presence.

I am somewhat in awe of crows. They can live in families and in flocks. They can fly in formation or be singular in their attacks for food. They are ubiquitous and noisy as well as necessary in the balance of Nature’s shalom. But most of all I appreciate their presence as I drive.

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