March is National Real Aloud month and so, I will do just that—read aloud. I will read aloud and record a story for you. It is public domain provided by Project Gutenberg. As you may have noticed by the title, it is crow related. =) And so, grab a cup of tea, sit back and turn the volume up and listen to a story. I will include the pictures as well! =) I hope you enjoy it.
THE GOLDEN GOOSE BOOK
(The Golden Goose Tom Thumb The 3 Bears The 3 Little Pigs)
RING O’ ROSES A collection of Old Nursery Rhymes
THE HOUSE IN THE WOOD and Other Old Fairy Stories
A ROUNDABOUT TURN By ROBERT H. CHARLES
THE NURSERY RHYME BOOK Edited by ANDREW LANG
THE TAILOR AND THE CROW
Disclaimer: This eBook (Johnny Crow’s Party) is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net. The audio recording is mine—please do note where you got it (Corvid Corner), if you do redistribute it. Thanks. =)
I came across an interesting tale, The Three Ravens, it was originally an old English ballad and it has been told in various forms over time. This is a very different version of The Three Ravens told by Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. You can watch it here…
Today, I have the pleasure of sharing with you a story written by one of our readers, Cyndie Morrell. Now, it’s all hers…
Dedicated to my mom, Faith Booth, who encouraged rather than ridiculed me when I started planting feathers in the pot full of dying foliage that graced the lobby of her apartment building.
Plant Your Feathers
By Cyndie Morrell (McAuliff)
As we walked up the hill toward home, the sound of the crows calling fell down around my ears from the treetops. I was oblivious to the sound of Zeeks voice. The bold, black birds had me mesmerized. Night was descending upon us. The wind whipped leaves around our feet. I heard them chant again; “You’re CAWWWGHT CAWWWGHT”. I knew as they mocked me that they spoke only the truth. I was caught. Caught listening again to this man who loved the sound of his own voice, who knew all the answers.
Suddenly there was a commotion in the sky. Two of the birds clashed above our heads. They beat their wings at each other. Their frantic screaming pierced the oncoming night. They pecked and prodded at each other with beaks and feet. As they pulled apart, I saw one rip at the other with its talons, pulling feathers from its wing. They fluttered to earth, those one, two three, four, five, six, seven blue-black crow feathers. I scurried to gather them before they got lost in the leaves or carried away by the wind.
Another excellent photograph found on flickr. This one is by Mark Cummins. If you click on the photograph it will take you to the URL where it is originally posted.
I am not 100% certain what particular bird this is in the corvidae family. However, I think it might be a rook but I am reluctant to say this for certain with authority because I am not so familiar with rooks to recognize off the top of my head. It looks like a rook and it looks like it the same bird I previously posted by the same photographer and it was a rook. So, I imagine it is either the same bird or a similar one. =)
This is the Corvus frugilegus which means “food-gathering” in Latin. They are more commonly referred to as the Rook. I have not had the great pleasure of seeing this bird in person but I am very excited to learn about it. It looks like a harsher, thinner crow. It appears, to me, to have had a hard-knock-life. I like how it wears its character, much like I relish the quirks in people; a wrinkle earned through years of laughter and tears, an innocent freckle just above the wrist, the shy happiness in a crooked smile, the confident swing of a left-leaning gait.
From what I’ve learned about the Rook, you can differentiate it from similar corvids by looking for the “bare gray-white skin around the base of the adult’s bill in front of the eyes or the feathering around the legs; it looks shaggier and laxer than the congeneric Carrion Crow.”1
It seems it is found all over Europe and east of Europe. I read that it is found in Great Britain quite frequently.
Much like all corvids, it is a survivor. It will eat just about anything depending on where it lives. It prefers earthworms and insect larvae but will eat cereal grain, fruit, insects, crustaceans, small animals, acorns, bird eggs, and will pilfer through the trash for food scraps in urban areas.2
The Rook nests together in a colony. This is commonly referred to as colonial nesting which means nesting with many other birds in a safe place and living commune-style. The Rooks learn from one another and find food together. They protect one another but they are still predatory birds, so they can be found stealing from another from time to time. They prefer to nest way up high in trees. They typically have 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 16-18 days and the fledglings are cared for by their parents and other rooks for about a month.
Once fully fledged, they get together with other single rooks and sometimes even jackdaws and fly around, presumably deciding who they will mate with in the future. Or perhaps just enjoying the free, young, single life…flying around without a care.
You can hear a rook here.
It sounds much like most crows but maybe a little throatier which matches how they look, for me anyways. =) I like their throaty “caw”.
Rooks are interesting birds. And so they are written about…people speculate about their abilities and even conjure up powers for these intelligent birds. I found the following on Wikipedia… it is a direct copy and paste but interesting.
Like many other members of the Corvidae family, the Rook features prominently in folklore. Traditionally, Rooks are said to be able to forecast weather and to sense the approach of death. If a rookery — the colonial nesting area of rooks — were abandoned, it was said to bring bad fortune for the family that owned the land. Another folk-tale holds that rooks are responsible for escorting the souls of the virtuous dead to heaven. William Butler Yeats may be making reference to the latter tale in his poem The Cold Heaven.
In Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic book series, Abel reveals that the parliament would surround a single rook, with that one telling a story. If the story was not liked, the parliament would attack and kill the speaker.
In Brian Jacques’s Redwall series, rooks make an appearance in Mattimeo. Rooks, along with magpies and other similar birds make up the army of General Ironbeak, one of the villains in the book.
In Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series, rooks are seen as agents of the Dark and the sign-seeker, Will Stanton is warned never to fully trust one.
In Phillip Pullman’s book Northern Lights Lyra Belacqua and Roger Parslow catch and heal an injured rook on the college rooftop.
In Stephen King’s Dark Tower entry Wizard and Glass, one of the characters, Cuthbert Allgood, carries a rook’s skull tied around his neck, claiming it as a good luck charm.
I am now an official fan of the Rook. I may always have been but I simply did not know it.
Do YOU have a Rook story to share with me? I would love to hear one (or many!) If so, e-mail me below.
According to a story in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, there once was a virgin princess, a girl so beautiful that she attracted the attention of the lecherous sea god, Poseidon. When sweet words failed to seduce her, the hot-blooded Poseidon attempted to take her by force, and the girl called to the heavens for help. Her plea was answered by the virgin Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, who turned the vulnerable princess into a hard-to-catch crow.
“I was stretching out my arms to the sky,” Crow says, in Ovid’s telling;”those arms began to darken with soft plumage. I tried to lift my cloak from my shoulders but it had turned to feathers with roots deep in my skin. I tried to beat my naked breast with my hands but found that I had neither hands nor naked breast.”
Once airborne, Crow escaped with her virtue intact and entered Athena’s service.1
Savage, Candace. Crows : Encounters with the Wise Guys. New York: Greystone Books, 2005. Via Ovid’s Metamorphoses. [↩]
During the witch craze in Western Europe, ravens and crows were sometimes feared as demons. In Strathnaver, Scotland, for example, in the seventeenth century, an entire congregation of prayerful souls was seized with dread when they sensed a spectral raven in the house with them. Evil emanated from this shadowy presence, and the people were paralyzed with fear. A day passed and then another, and the group decided to sacrifice the house-holder’s son to the bird spirit. And so they would have done had it not been for the intervention of a servant. Eventually, neighbors rallied to tear the roof off the house, and the raven’s dire spell was broken.1
Source: Savage, Candace. Crows : Encounters with the Wise Guys. New York: Greystone Books, 2005. [↩]