Carrion Crow….

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She is a black miracle once thought to be one of the last birds

to evolve because of her intelligence

but now known to be older than apes. Of all her family,

only she and the raven are black all over

but her physique is is slighter and more elegant

while still sufficiently powerful

to attack a herring gull, as she does now, while I watch her

pestering its head so that it releases

the small prawn from its beak, allowing her male partner

to swoop and catch it midair. She caws triumphantly,

waiting for him to finish the morsel

and take his turn in her role, so that she can do the swooping.

ARKive image ARK009740 - Carrion crow

When they have plundered sufficiently

she flaps lazily upwards until she floats above him

then dives straight down at his eyeballs

nearer and nearer till he slides quietly sideways

dropping towards her, talons extended,

shrieking with mock rage. They have been five years together

and fledged five broods, he feeding her

while she incubated the five or seven or once ten eggs,

she hunting as well as him to fill the gaping

red throats of the ever-ready feathered stomachs

that in time were birds, wanting to walk

on the air, that she sent out and mustered daily,

made them play follow my leader

to learn where to find snails and where then to drop them

from a height and to wait for human beings

to discard food through the windows of parked cars.

She teaches a hundred strategies

knowing that knowledge is life and the air always friendly

to her families and freedom for her

to display the gentle rise on the thermals and the delicate

nudge of wings as she glides easily

sure that there will always be food, so now there is leisure

to enjoy the splendour of crowness

by which she inspires her fledglings and honours her maker.

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