Wednesday, January 28, 2009

jackdaws and crows


a small, gray-headed crow that typically nests in tall buildings and chimneys, noted for its inquisitiveness. • Genus Corvus, family Corvidae: two species, in particular the Eurasian C.

Jackdaws are very cool birds. Ferociously intelligent but not as obviously malefic as carrion crows or ravens. I am guessing they have a lot in common with their ancestral velociraptors.

I am no ornithologist, and I am fond of domestic cats, so this is purely conjecture in the loosest sense.

A long time ago now, I lived next door to a small farm. I have witnessed firsthand the lethal work of crows hunting in packs; dropping off fence-posts and telegraph wires to worry sheep and feast on newborn lambs. They go for the eyes. Plucking them up like precious gems. Ravens, especially, have a bad reputation. In folklore they are harbingers of doom, their song the voice of the dead. In times of war they are notoriously populous. Hanging over battlefields in droves and feeding on the fallen.

Jackdaws, like magpies, have more agreeable traits. Natural thieves, they are drawn to small shiny objects - jewelry - which they covet and use to line their nests just like young women in synthetic leisurewear:

"A covetous fellow, like a jackdaw, steals what he was never made to enjoy, for the sake of hiding it."

- John Gray, "Beggars Opera", 1728.

Of course. All that glitters will eventually rust.

PINK FLOYD: THE SCARECROW from "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" LP (Columbia EMI) 1967 (UK)


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