Never Mistreat Crows

November 2022

Never mistreat crows…

Or any other creature, of course- but I'd like to tell you the story of someone who learned this the hard way.

Some weeks ago I was walking around the woods quite near to where I live. As I walked across a grassy clearing, I discovered a young man who was throwing sticks and stones at a group of crows (there were three in all, so probably a mating pair and their offspring). I made it clear to him that he needed to stop his mindless act. "Everything comes back to you eventually- good or bad," I warned (this is something I tentatively believe, if only because things tend to even out over long periods of time- karma is a great idea but the evidence for it is patchy)

Anyway, he muttered something about crows being stupid, dirty creatures. "They are not stupid," I pointed out, "and they will remember you. All crows will remember you. Now *I* know your face as well. Don't let me see you here again." (The actual words I used may have been somewhat less polite, but they were just as ominous).

But he got the idea and made himself scarce.

Then, last week, I saw him again in a different area, near the edge of the woods. It was a cold day, with the promise of sleet in the air.

He was being attacked- well, swooped down on and frightened more than attacked- by a larger group of crows. I'll admit I was fascinated, but not entirely surprised. Crows *do* remember humans who ill-treat them… but more importantly, they pass that information to others of their kind nearby.

I stood and watched, and as he desperately wheeled around, trying to get away from them, he saw me. "Tell them to get off me!" he screeched, as if I have the power to compel corvids. Which, clearly, this guy thought I had. (I've seen him twice since then and both times he changed direction to get away from me)

I observed as he reached the main track and zig-zagged his panicked way up towards the road, whereupon- having expelled him from the woods- the crows wheeled away, the lesson perhaps learned.

As I walked on, hands deep in my coat, small black shapes swooped past me and called to one another through the low sky.