dead baby (#17)

The other day, I found this dead crow in the middle of the road, just outside my daughter’s school. I suspect, given the time of year, that she was a young one, fairly fresh from the nest, still learning to identify the dangers of living in such close proximity to humans. We’re thankful that the school district pays a nice woman to be a cross-guard there because commuters speed by so carelessly. This baby was not so lucky.

I wonder if the car even braked before it mowed her over. Did they even notice her beautiful little body swaggering along the center line, or were they too busy texting? Or did the driver swerve to hit her, chalking it up as one strike against dark forces?  What about all the other people who ran over her afterwards, flattening her body to a pancake?  Did they even notice?

Slow down, people.  Slow down and see what you’re doing.  Open your eyes.  

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About girl in the hat

aka Anna Fonté, writer of novels, short stories, personal essays, and bits about the neighborhood crows. The things I write want you to look at them.

27 comments

  1. last week, a bird flew into my windshield and i nearly threw up. i was driving my kids to school–they were both in the back seat–and the thought of that bird nearly dead on the side of the road as i kept driving made me nauseous.

    we live in the country where there is never a shortage of huge pick-up trucks being driven too fast by young adults and an unlimited supply of scattering creatures trying to make it from one field to the next. opossums, raccoons, and squirrel corpses lace the roads. i say a hail mary in my head whenever i see one. i can’t help it. little scurrying animals don’t have a chance.

    (snakes i don’t mind being dead.)

    • It occurs to me that I have never hit an animal with my car. Then it occurs that probably I have and I just didn’t notice. I see an amazing array of creatures on the highway here in the city– deer, opossum, raccoons, and many, many cats. I imagine the carnage really piles up on a country road.

      • Just avoided a fox the other night – it was already dead, in the middle of the road, but I couldn’t bear to go over it. But then again, I couldn’t bear to get out and take it to one side either… Cowards, once again.

  2. The other day I was driving along when I noticed a hurt crow on the road and two blackbirds dive-bombing it. I got out of the car to try to to help. As I moved closer the downed bird tried to scoot across the asphalt away from me while the attackers cawed and positioned themselves up in the trees. Suddenly the area became alive with aggressive birds. They attacked me and the wounded bird. I felt horrible to leave the guy on the road but I could tell that the aggressors had no intention of letting that poor bird go. I got back into my car and the tears fell as I watched a large mass finish the job. I ended up calling a friend who is very knowledgeable about birds. She explained that they are dutiful creatures. That if one bird is selected to stand watch and protect the others and somehow is unsuccessful at his duty then he is punished and killed by the rest of the tribe. I guess I watched the execution. There is a lot we need to pay attention to. Thanks for your nice message.

    • Woah! I never heard of this happening. Do you mean that the blackbirds killed a crow or that crows did? I am very intrigued….

      • The crows killed their own. Supposedly that’s what they do when one puts the rest at risk. I assume the wounded one was being the sentinel and messed up somehow. So he is sacrificed by the rest. I didn’t want to believe it, but the poor little guy was not going to accept my help. Even when they attacked him he didn’t fight back. It was awful. Anyway, just thought I’d mention the story because it was the oddest thing I’d ever seen crows do. But they are supposed to be one of the smartest birds.

        • Annie, I was so intrigued by this I did some poking around and found this on a Cornell site:
          “Crows are very social species and live in large extended family groups. That does not mean, however, that they are friendly with all other crows. Just as we humans are social and love our families and friends, we also have been known to fight and kill each other on occasion. Birds may fight for a number of reasons, such as defending territory boundaries, protecting their mate (or sexual access to them), or defending some other resource. Crow fights within a family are usually short and involve only a few pecks. (Crows, in my experience, actually seem to have very few intra-family squabbles compared to some bird species.) Fights between members of different families, however, can be protracted and deadly. I frequently see crows locked together tumbling out of trees in the spring. Although I have never witnessed an actual killing, I would not be at all surprised to see crows kill another crow from outside the family group that was trespassing.

          Another possible explanation of extreme violence is that the attacked crow was already injured. Injured, sick, or oddly acting birds are often attacked by their own species. Crows are no exception. One explanation for this behavior is that having an injured individual around is dangerous to others in that it might attract predators. Not only that, but a vulnerable crow could teach a predator to hunt for crows, which might endanger other crows. With this line of reasoning, crows would be best served by getting rid of an odd ball. I do not know if crows would eat another crow they killed. They might, but I rather expect they would not.”
          They are truly fascinating and mysterious creatures. I guess there is no way to really know what happened! Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. it should have been dick cheney. continue…

  4. TheOthers1

    It’s easy to not focus on that. I’ve had people tell me they’ve driven by me wavibg like crazy and I’m not paying attention. I’m thinking about getting where I’m going. Not speeding just focused. I’m sure I would’ve at least tried to avoid the poor chit. :(

    • Once, when I was in India, I saw a boy squashed on the train tracks, similar to this bird. The people on the platform looked right over him– I will never, ever forget that.

  5. aw. Although the commenter info was very interesting though. Is it called a murder of crows?

  6. I didn’t feel right about liking it… but you know what I mean …

  7. I sure hope none of the kids saw him, poor little guy. I saw a friend’s 9 year old weep over a dead horseshoe crab recently. Kids with their great big hearts…

  8. I see a lot of dead things on the road, from dogs, to unrecognizable splatters and the sad thing is sometimes we see too much of one thing we don’t stop to think so much anymore…and I reckon people (myself included) sometimes get stuck in their bubble, seeing only themselves, “I’m Late” “I need to go to the toilet hurry up” “wonder how I look today” u get what I’m saying eh??? Thanks for the reminder

  9. Slow down and see what your doing. Powerful message for so many reasons. I always feel very sad when I see animals that have been hot by cars. Always think I should stop and bury them, or at the very least, move them off the road. I don’t do either but I ALWAYS say, I’M SORRY, out loud. My way of owning what humanity is doing.

  10. wow – love crow talk. I have written in my blog about crows on all of these subject. Baby crows look like adults but just don’t know what to do. I have stopped and shooed a baby out the street because like our children they dont know any better.

    But to the subject of crows killing others. I have recent experience with this. A pair were building a nest and right before they laid eggs another crow came upon their territory. We found him pecked to death in the Rhodie bushes. Sad but it is their way. http://batgurrl.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/nest-in-renton-and-death-of-a-crow/

  11. We have bachelor parties of guinea fowl here on the Island that are constantly trying to chase their ‘buddies’ under our tyres – thankfully the speed limit is 30km an hour and enforced with irregular speed bumps every 10 metres and these birds are in their physical prime and very fast, what they lack in brain they certainly make up for in agility.

    My saddest moments are the squashed tortoises – that just ain’t right man! If it happens in front of our house we have to go and be the CSI clean up team as one will be judged and have your door knocked upon by the Conservancy Watch Dogs. It happens at least once a year – it’s heart aching!

  12. Sad, but I would not worry for his soul. By now he has probably been reincarnated as a decadent black cat.

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