Posted by: atowhee | May 5, 2022


I got the following from my long-time friend, Greg Giusso, who lives in the Bay Area. An urban crow delivers his sermon:

Greg wrote, wisely: “Yesterday inside the Catholic church where I graduated from high school, St. Joseph in Alameda, Ca. a crow flew through an open door and landed on the crystal chandelier during a Roman Catholic mass. The large photo was taken by Norma, my mother’s fantastic daily caretaker who attended the mass.  

The huge crow vocalized to the congregation during the entire mass.  What we don’t know for certain is whether or not this newest parishioner deposited anything on the fixture as the ushers passed the collection plate around.  Knowing crows like I do from living in Castro Valley, I’m sure this clown unselfishly contributed something at the time.

When examining the close-up we see the crow looking toward the camera from his lofty pulpit with his shiny beak, perched with those pencil-like legs.  I bet this bird weighs nearly a pound.

By the way, I’m told that the priest did not delay or react to the crow’s incessant caws.  From that we might say the priest wasn’t concerned about being upstaged by a tandem sermon from a bird up on high.  Knowing these birds, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that on his next visit to St. Joseph’s he could lead a congregational hymn.  Perhaps, “Nearer My God to Thee”, after all he was at the highest spot.  Lastly, maybe the crow was seeking sanctuary for his past indiscretions on car windows parked outside the basilica. 

Also, how many instant-bird watchers under that light fixture said extra prayers for protection?

I really like crows. —Greg

Most of us now admit that the corvid family is made up of smart, social, communicative critters. Remember the by-gone days of “Humans are the only animal that…” I now snort at once-believed cant like “man the tool-maker.” Man the bomb-maker would suffice to make us unique among mammals.

Crows in cities know our kind and our behavior. Did this one show up for crackers during communion? Did he simply want to watch the slow-moving mammals below? I personally believe curiosity extends far beyond our hominid tribe to most other social animals. A safe place to rest where he didn’t have to worry about gulls or peregrines? Was he warning about climate change, political change, drought? There to eulogize a fellow-crow who died too soon?

Cynthia Donald sent me this note about here current crowdom:
“‘My’ crows have taken to guarding the yard because a Cooper’s Hawk has taken up residence nearby. I’ve witnessed 2 occasions where the hawk cornered and killed a Mourning Dove by my front door, so have taken to moving the saucer feeder further out so birds that are eating there have a better view of the yard. That still doesn’t completely protect them, though. This morning, the hawk sailed into my little maple tree out front and was completely hidden. Two days ago, after the second dove was dispatched, the crows dive bombed the hawk and tail-chased it out of the yard. It held onto it’s meal so that was good. I suspect there is a nest in one of my neighbor’s big trees, probably a youngster as well. I, too, am very fond of corvids and parrots!”

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