Saint Benedict of Nursia

Original photo from the Saint Martin’s University website.

 

 

While driving around a beautiful university campus I came across a monastery with a lovely statue in front. It was a bronze statue of Saint Benedict of Nursia with a book in one hand a crow on his shoulder. I had not previously read about this saint or his story. But I found it interesting that he is depicted most times with crows. Here are a couple pictures of the statue I saw on the lawn near the abbey at Saint Martin’s University in Olympia, Washington. (They are not the greatest because I felt rude going on the lawn to get head on shots. Maybe next time I go I will ask if for permission.)

Bronze statue of Saint Benedict of Nursia seen at the Saint Martin’s University in Olympia, WA.

 

 

According to the Saint Martin’s University website, ((http://www.stmartin.edu/about/tour/BenedictStatue.aspx))

The dynamic, larger-than-life, bronze statue of Saint Benedict of Nursia, Father of Western monasticism and patron saint of the Catholic Benedictine order, stands near the Abbey Church. The statue, by Russian-born artist Simon Kogan, is a reminder of the 1,500-year-old Benedictine heritage that is part of the fabric of Saint Martin’s. Among the hallmarks are hospitality, service and a commitment to work, prayer and learning.

 

Bronze statue of Saint Benedict of Nursia seen at the Saint Martin’s University in Olympia, WA.

 

Crows were important to Saint Benedict of Nursia according to the French legend of the monk, Benedict of Nursia, who is known as the father of the monastic rule of the Benedictines. In French, a saying, “D’or aux trois corbeaux de sable posés deux et un” which translates into “Of gold, three sand crows posed two and one” denotes this very legend. It was said that Saint Benedict lived within a cave far away from the people and shared his food faithfully with a crow who visited him daily. This crow grew to love the monk and Saint Benedict grew to love the crow(s). A jealous priest sent poisoned bread to kill Saint Benedict but he was wise and gave it to the crows telling them to throw in a place far, far, far from any man. And so the crows did as he said and became the symbol of obligingness, intelligence and fidelity. ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoenheim)) ((http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02467b.htm)) ((http://www.idahomonks.org/sect501.htm)) ((http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2008/07/feast-of-st-benedict.html)) ((http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/benpamphlet.html))

Another spin on the legend makes it Saint Benedict and the raven from the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, ((http://www.fisheaters.com/animals4.html))
 

When as the foresaid monasteries were zealous in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and their fame dispersed far and near, and many gave over the secular life, and subdued the passions of their soul, under the light yoke of our Saviour: then (as the manner of wicked people is, to envy at that virtue which themselves desire not to follow) one Florentius, Priest of a church nearby, and grandfather to Florentius our sub-deacon, possessed with diabolical malice, began to envy the holy man’s [Benedict’s] virtues, to back-bite his manner of living, and to withdraw as many as he could from going to visit him.

When he saw that he could not hinder his virtuous proceedings, but that, on the contrary, the fame of his holy life increased, and many daily, on the very report of his sanctity, took themselves to a better state of life : burning more and more with the coals of envy, he became far worse; and though he desired not to imitate his commendable life, yet fain he would have had the reputation of his virtuous conversation.

In conclusion so much did malicious envy blind him, and so far did he wade in that sin, that he poisoned a loaf and sent it to the servant of almighty God, as it were for a holy present. The man of God received it with great thanks, yet not ignorant of that which was hidden within. At dinner time, a crow daily used to come to him from the next wood, which took bread at his hands; coming that day after his manner, the man of God threw him the loaf which the Priest had sent him, giving him this charge: “In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, take up that loaf, and leave it in some such place where no man may find it.” Then the crow, opening his mouth, and lifting up his wings, began to hop up and down about the loaf, and after his manner to cry out, as though he would have said that he was willing to obey, and yet could not do what he was commanded.

The man of God again and again bide him, saying: “Take it up without fear, and throw it where no man may find it.” At length, with much ado, the crow took it up, and flew away, and after three hours, having dispatched the loaf, he returned again, and received his usual allowance from the man of God.

 

Bronze statue of Saint Benedict of Nursia seen at the Saint Martin’s University in Olympia, WA.

 

In my research on Saint Benedict of Nursia, I found this other statue depicting him with crows, as well. The legends all include his love for crows and how he helps them and they help him. This makes him a memorable saint for me. An old-school corvid lover. =)

“Saint Benedict” by Br. David Paul Lange OSB – Photo: Mary van Balen

Javan Green Magpie (Short-tailed Magpie)

Let me introduce you to the Javan Green Magpie, also known as the the Short-tailed Magpie or Cissa Thalassina.

CorvidCorner did not take this photograph. If you are the photographer please let us know and we will add your name immediately. Thanks!

Striking bird, eh? The Javan Green Magpie is part of the Corvidae family. This beautiful bird is endemic to the mountain forests on the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Java. Yep, those are the only two places you can find the Javan Green Magpie. It lives in thick vegetation in the upper and middle levels of forests and makes only short flights.

Photo taken by Dr. Mithilesh Mishra in Kinabalu nature park. © All rights are reserved by him. Please ask his permission if you want to reuse it for any reason.

The Bornean subspecies jeffreyi has whitish eyes. The nominate subspecies from Java, as well as other members of the genus (Cissa), have dark reddish-brown eyes. The Javan Green Magpie is considered critically endangered with a population of about 50 to 249 mature individuals. ((http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=112641)) ” It has also been suggested that the total population probably does not exceed 100 individuals and could number fewer than 50 individuals, as there may be only one or two dozen birds at each of up to four sites where the species was recorded from 2001 to 2011 and may still be extant (van Balen et al. 2011).” ((http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=112641&m=1)) These birds are endangered because of habitat loss and habitat degradation driven primarily by agricultural expansion, logging and mining. Unfortunately, they are also often trapped in cages set out for the cage-bird trade business. =( Only a small number have ever been recorded in bird markets which indicates they are caught but then killed because they are not necessary. ((van Balen et al. 2011))

As you can see from the photograph above, the Javan Green Magpie mostly eats invertebrates and small vertebrate prey as well as berries (I saw a photograph of one with a berry in its mouth).  Breeding appears to take place throughout the year, with a preference for the months with highest rainfall (October -April). Clutch size is one or two (van Balen et al. 2011 and references therein).

It is slightly larger than a blue jay.

I couldn’t find much more about this beautiful bird but if you can, please share!

 

Our Land Is The Sky: The Adventures of Jimmy Fastwing

I love my crows. And I love books. And I really love books about crows.

I recently read a charming story of Jimmy Fastwing, a young crow, in the journey of his first year of life. This book walks you through the life of a young, clever crow named Jimmy Fastwing. Life isn’t easy being a crow. It is easy for us to forget how very few crow actually survive through their first year. Less than half of the crows hatched will survive each year. The odds are not in their favor. Add in the constant danger from dogs, cats and humans who despite crows, and the first year of a crow’s life is as action packed as any blockbuster movie. Our Land is the Sky: The Adventures of Jimmy Fastwing by Frank J. Croskerry gives us a peek into the day to day life and struggles of one little brave crow. From the publisher, a more articulate description of this lovely little book,

Spring has been a violent affair this year, and many new crows have not survived the high winds and rainstorms. For the few who have, there are still the very dangerous exercises of learning what birds need to know to exist with the rest of the clan. While flying comes naturally to them, there is much more they need to know if they are to stay out of harm’s reach. Young crow Jimmy Fastwing has his grandfather to teach him the basic things a young crow needs to know. If he can manage the first stages of take-offs and landings, there will be other family members to assist him in his learning. He’ll have to know about things like finding food, hiding it, and socializing with the clan. Join Jimmy in his first year of life as he grows, learns, and avoids one calamity after another. If he’s lucky, he’ll learn quickly enough to become an important member of the clan.

One of my favorite quirky parts of this story is that Frank Croskerry adds in little cute crow puns like “crow-sing” for cruising, “crow-d”, and cawcaphony… I have a penchant for such puns. I used them here on CorvidCorner myself with “crow-tations” and so each time I read one of his clever little puns I smiled and chuckled to myself. Fun!

I recommend this book for all who love crows, birds or just a good fictional story of the natural world. Our Land is the Sky: The Adventures of Jimmy Fastwing is a juvenile fiction book, 88 pages. I read it in an hour or so. I even read it aloud for a friend. I think it is a great story to read to your children, to your friends, to anyone interested in learning more about crows and their social nature and their struggle to survive the first year of life. Thank you Frank J. Croskerry for this charming read. It now has a permanent place in my ever-growing library of crow-related books.

A new crow book coming!

I have been waiting so patiently, ok, maybe not so patiently, but waiting… and waiting… for John Marzluff’s new book, Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans to come out. And it comes out in 6 days! You can officially order it on Barnes and Noble today! I just did! YAY! I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on this book! I cannot wait! Hip! Hip! Hooray!

As soon as I get it and read it, I will write up a thorough review for you here on CorvidCorner.com. =)

Till then!

Making a Spectacle by Chris Pilkington

I came across a fantastic limited edition graphic novel about a crow named Jim. It is geared towards children and has a moral story to it. It looks lovely! Anyone know how I can get my hands on a copy?

All rights reserved. Photograph sole property of Chris Pilkington (http://cargocollective.com/chrispilkington/Crow-Book)

All rights reserved. Photograph sole property of Chris Pilkington (http://cargocollective.com/chrispilkington/Crow-Book)

All rights reserved. Photograph sole property of Chris Pilkington (http://cargocollective.com/chrispilkington/Crow-Book)

All rights reserved. Photograph sole property of Chris Pilkington (http://cargocollective.com/chrispilkington/Crow-Book)

All rights reserved. Photograph sole property of Chris Pilkington (http://cargocollective.com/chrispilkington/Crow-Book)

All rights reserved. Photograph sole property of Chris Pilkington (http://cargocollective.com/chrispilkington/Crow-Book)

An Injured Crow

I have many bird visitors daily to my feeders. The past few days a crow has been visiting. This crow is beautiful, younger but this crow is injured. And it makes me so sad to see the bird limp. =(

You can see him/her nursing its leg. =(

The crow didn’t fly away like most do when I get too close. It is injured and worried but I was not hasty in approaching it.

I made some calls to the local wildlife organization to see if they could help. If you find an injured crow (or any bird) or an abandoned nest or hatchling (baby bird), you can call or visit the website of national organization to find your local facilities:

When in doubt, just call your local humane society and ask what to do or who to call. They should be able to help direct you to the appropriate people to contact. If you really can’t figure out anyone to call, write me at crowgyrls at gmail dot com. I will find someone for you to call.

My local wildlife organization told me to see if I can catch the crow and bring it in. They recommended using a towel or a sheet. Crows are nervous by nature (and rightfully so). It may take a bit to catch them, if you can at all. If the crow can fly, they will probably evade you. And crows have an amazing memory and can teach their young to avoid particular people. So, be prepared to be the bad guy for awhile. Perhaps permanently. It is not for the faint of heart, helping transport a crow to an animal hospital or wildlife facility.

I will let you know how this goes…

Black Storm by Larry Toogood

A fantastic short animated film all about the dynamics between crows and humans. I won’t try to articulate a description, I’ll just copy and paste the original from the maker.

What is Black Storm?

Black Storm is an animated short film set in Malaysia, about a man and a crow who must learn to trust each other and unite their tribes.

This amazing short film brings together what a lot of us already know, that crows are extremely intelligent birds.

They have extraordinary memories. They have good tool-making skills, can read numbers, judge threat levels and communicate in more than 20 different caw sounds.

If you have ever wondered about the cunning thinking of a crow then you are sure to enjoy the story of “Black Storm” – the Island of Katuki is threatened with deforestation and if the crows and humans can’t settle their differences they are doomed to die apart.

DESCRIPTION of the plot…

Driven from their homes, if they can’t learn to live together, they’re doomed to die apart…

The fable takes place on the majestic tropical island of Katuki. But when the food runs out, this island sanctuary becomes a battleground. In this place, the only currency is whatever will keep you from going hungry, and the only allies you can afford are your own people.

Jungle Crow Leader Storm was born into power, and acts like it. He’s a talented mimic, skilled with locks, brave beyond all reason, and has been crossed by only one group: the humans. They stole his flock’s historical home and left them homeless for weeks. Now he intends to get his fair share of that land by any means. However, Storm may yet need their help in ways he never expected…

Village Leader Abraham is the wise grandfather of Katuki. He’s watched his village be forced from their ancestral lands, and now looks on as his people barely scrape by. Plagued by constant attacks on their crops by the savage crows, he knows his advisers are right when they tell him that guns are the only solution. But in the back of his mind, Abraham wonders if there could ever be another way…

“It’s an animated short film that explores tolerance and mutual understanding, underpinned by an ecological concern. With a hint of Avatar about it, this story of a man and a crow is a complex narrative that turns and develops nicely. The team is very experienced. The storyboards are truly excellent; this would make an excellent family animation.“

– New Zealand Film Commission  


UPDATE: This short animated film has been launched on Kickstarter.com. You can watch it here.