I had not been home long this evening when I heard a huge commotion outside. Crows, seemingly dozens of them, cawing and crying, obviously in distress. I went outside and realized the sounds were coming from across the street, where our neighbors (and parishioners) Misty Bentz and James Tran live. This murder of crows was in distress about the attempted murder of one of their flock by a hawk.
Misty witnessed it out her front door. The hawk swooped down and got the crow, who struggled and got free, but was gravely wounded and on the ground. Misty wrapped it in a towel and put it in a box, and was making unsuccessful calls to animal rescue organizations trying to find someone who would take an injured bird. Meanwhile the rest of the flock flew from tree to tree, calling out to their wounded friend, and chasing the screeching hawk, who was still hanging around hoping for dinner.
We gave the wounded bird some water and food and placed it in Misty and James’ garage, safe from the hawk, with the hope it would recover, Sadly, it did not.
Crows are among the most intelligent of animals. As we heard this evening, they express complex emotions to others through voice and feathers. Johan McGowan, author of In the Company of Crows and Ravens, writes that crow society is family based. A breeding couple has offspring that stay and help raise the next batch of offspring. Relationships are maintained and individuals can join up with each years later. Crows have territories and gather in communal places. When you see a number of crows gathering, he writes, “those aren’t gangs of crows, they’re typically family groups that are helping each other make a living.”
Tonight the family of crows who live in our neighborhood are mourning. And although I know what happened is part of nature, and I am an admirer of the majesty of our neighborhood hawks, tonight my heart is with the crows. I hope they know that Misty was trying to help. And as Misty wrote, “I hope he was a little more comfortable and a little less scared at the end than he would have been. He is now resting in a hollow at the base of a tree in our woodsy backyard. A friend of his saw me put him there. I hope his calls were to tell the other friends to say goodbye.” Blessings on them all.
A Crow’s Prayer.
Lift your head to the treetops and open your beak.
Settle your feathers, then breathe out and speak.
The sound has no target, no distance to travel,
Your voice is a ball of wool, let it unravel.
Softly, at first, starting deep down inside,
rising like mist, making its way outside.
Sighing like willows in a warm summer breeze,
making it’s way where it’s going, with ease.
Nothing in life needs much force to succeed.
Nothing succeeding in life, has much need.
Let your thoughts be, what they are meant to be,
Let your thoughts see, that you have set them free.
Some things are harder, than others, it’s thought.
Some thoughts, are harder than others, if fought.
Some words are harder, and some words are soft,
Let them all go, set them all free, aloft.
To dance and to curtsey, to skip and to float,
like the laughter of children, in a sandcastle moat.
Each carrying a part of you, each word is alive,
so choose each one carefully, for words never die.
Your words are all precious, though none has a price.
As they fly to the heavens, and are gone, in a trice.
But the echoes from each will endure for all time,
Ringing out through eternity, in harmony, rhymed.