Mysteries of the Crow

Crows are mysterious creatures, a black bird that seems ever elusive, most often appearing only in dark, brooding moments and images. I have seen them only infrequently, aside from their appearances in Westerns, comic books, paintings, horror pictures, suspenseful stories, indigenous tales, and medieval folklore. Although I have often noted their presence in such imagery, as well as nursery rhymes, literature, and popular songs, I have never truly given too much thought to the strange character of the crow. I had not wondered about its dark beauty, its intelligence, its habits, nor its peculiar behaviour. I had not wondered much, that is, until I, myself, experienced a strange encounter with a crow.

I had had few crow sightings in my lifetime, and although I spent a large part of my childhood in Southern Ontario farmland, I have no recollection of having ever seen a ‘murder’ of crows, neither in a field nor a pasture. I have only seen them appear singly in urban landscapes, where they are usually either perched high up on a lamp post or a telephone pole, or barely visible somewhere among the trees. Although, moving to Vancouver changed all that, at least for a while.

Walking home one grey, foggy day, I strolled along the lovely, tree-lined neighbourhood streets leading to my basement rental. I had just moved to Vancouver in early December, and this was spring, possibly a year and a half later. The neighbourhood was South Cambie, and I lived on 22nd. I was returning home from an overnight visit with a friend, and was strolling along the residential streets at a fairly comfortable pace, when, out of nowhere, I was struck with sharp, brute force on the back of my head.

Shocked, I spun around, just in time to sense the wind gape over black wings of a bird that swept up past, over and above me to light upon a telephone pole. I stopped in my tracks, frozen. A black crow looked down angrily at me, and cawed. Loudly. At me. Bewildered, I walked on, and picked up my pace. The crow continued its cawing, and began to follow after me, flying from one pole to the next, on the street where I walked along. It swooped down and hit me again, and I cried out. “What the f—?!! …What do you want??!” I cried, looking up at the crow in astonishment. I was, honestly, somewhat terrified. I rushed along.

The crow swept down at me one more time but I managed to duck out of the way of its attack. It flew back up, somewhere in the treetops, out of sight, as I raced along the street towards home. There was no one around to help me. No witness to come to my rescue or console me. No one to explain this strange behaviour encountered by a big city girl, her first time away from home, out on a coastal town.

I have never, as far as I can recall, encountered an animal so determined to address me, and yell at me, unprovoked.