crows ravens bullying and kindness

What’s there to crow about?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a raven. It can be in nature or used to describe humanity as a metaphor. Follow the bird. Go where the prompt leads.

While ravens and crows may have their differences, as an Australian, I can be forgiven for having difficulty in telling them apart. As this article about the Australian Raven in Birds in Backyards says,

“There are six members of the family Corvidae found in Australia: five native breeding species and one infrequent self-introduction. Three are called crows and three ravens, although there is really little difference. Most Australian species are similar in size and colouration, and can be difficult to tell apart.”

In fact, when I attempted to find photographs of crows and ravens, I found the same photograph labelled ‘crow’ in one location and ‘raven’ in another!

I provide this information only so you’ll understand why I refer to crow rather than the raven of Charli’s prompt.

You see, Charli’s prompt reminded me of this video in which a crow shares its bread with a mouse.

I wondered why the crow would make such an effort to share with a mouse. Don’t crows usually eat mice?

I was reminded, then, of the Aesop’s fable The Lion and the Mouse in which a lion, surprised at the idea that a mouse might one day be able to help him, forgoes a meal and releases the mouse. The mouse returns the favour one day by freeing the lion when it was ensnared by hunters.

However, in the fable, it was the potential prey who helped the predator in an act of kindness.

In the video, it is the predator showing kindness to potential prey. Finding a motive required some divergent thinking. This is what I came up with as a start.

Crow and Mouse

“Caw, caw,” called Crow in the morning from atop the tree.

“Caw, caw,” called Crow at midday from the neat vegie patch.

“Caw, caw,” called Crow, perched high on a wire, at the end of the day.

“Shoo, shoo,” shouted Man in the morning, shaking knobbled fists.

“Shoo, shoo,” shouted Man at midday, stamping his feet.

“Shoo, shoo,” shouted Man, clattering his pans at the end of the day.

Sneak, sneak went Mouse from his hole in the wall, to the kitchen and back, unnoticed by Man who was noticing Crow.

And so it repeated, day after day.

Until, one day, Man grew tired of shooing Crow and loaded his slingshot with a rock. Mouse, ready to sneak, saw Man take aim. Mouse ran–across the floor and up Man’s leg. Man stumbled. In so doing, he dropped the rock upon his toe. He hollered. Crow heard the commotion and flew away, cawing his thanks to Mouse.

Man saw where Mouse hid. He fetched his hammer, nails and a board.

Just in time, Mouse escaped–down the stairs, through the garden and into the woods. In the darkness, Mouse trembled.  All his life, he had filled his belly with three good meals a day from Man’s kitchen. Could he fend for himself? He looked about this unfamiliar world. When the quiet was interrupted by a flap-flap-flap, he ducked for cover.

Too late–he’d been spotted.

“There you are,” cawed Crow, placing a piece of bread on the ground in front of Mouse. “Thank you for your kindness. One good turn always deserves another.”

What do you think?

Stories, stories, everywhere

I had fun writing the story and it reaffirmed for me that potential stories are everywhere, not only for adult writers, but for children too. I think children would love to discuss the video of the crow and the mouse and would ask many more questions and come up with more inventive stories than I did. What a fun writing prompt it would be. Children could also compose dialogue for the animals and act it as a play.

Of course, this story is much too long to qualify for Charli’s flash fiction 99-word requirement. For that I thought I’d go back to school with a chance for the bully Brucie to learn some kindness. The timing is just right with the observation of National Day for Action Against Bullying And Violence on 16 March, and both Harmony Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March.

In this article from ABC News, I discovered that clever crows are learning from magpies to swoop in order to protect their nests. It also seems that they never forget a face. Perhaps they are no happier to see bullying than we are.

This is my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you like it.

Nothing to crow about

Brucie had to get there first to stake his place at the very top. He didn’t slow on the still-wet grass, and only momentarily to laugh at Jasmine who slipped as he brushed past. From his perch, he smirked at the disappointed faces below.

“Caw!” said a crow, alighting alongside.

“Shoo!”

It didn’t shoo–more came.

Brucie shouted, waving his arms.

The crows shuffled closer.

Brucie thrashed wildly.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Jasmine banged a cricket bat against the frame.

The crows flew away.

“Are you okay?” asked Jasmine.

Brucie nodded, then let the others play.

The crows never returned.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

37 thoughts on “What’s there to crow about?

  1. Pingback: Into the forest | Norah Colvin

  2. Pingback: Ravens « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  3. Charli Mills

    Such an abundance of corvid information and ideas to process, Norah. I can understand how fun it would be for you to discuss the kindness of the crow with a young class, and encourage them to write their own stories. I enjoyed your story. You took it further and applied another act of kindness to a bully in your flash. You must live in a beautiful soundscape with all your birds!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I wish I had a class of my own with which I could respond to that video. I think it has a richness for discussion and learning that would only be discovered with a group of children. I don’t think of half the things they do. I miss their creative thoughts.
      I do live in a beautiful soundscape. I can’t imagine, or don’t want to think of, a world without birds. How dreadfully dreary it would be.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. Charli Mills

        You know how authors go into classes to read their books? Could you ever do that with your lessons? Go into a class like a guest author/educator? It seems like you gain much of your purpose from teaching in person.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  4. Jennie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, Norah. The theme of giving and kindness among predators and prey is perfectly captured in your story, and in the video. The Lion and the Mouse is a favorite.

    Like

    Reply
  5. Jules

    Thank you for the video – I showed it to my grandson this morning as I’ve to take him into school.
    I also enjoyed both of your stories. I was enchanted by the raven this week and wrote three entries.
    I have difficulty telling some of my small birds apart. We’ve also got a raven or crow here, one has some white on it’s wing shoulder and another that has red and white in the same area.
    http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/facts/crow_vs_raven.html this link shows a difference in size and tail. I can’t find photos right now of the bi and tri color wing. Might belong to crows.

    Cheers, Jules

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for the information about ravens and crows, Jules. I was looking for something like that about our Australian birds but couldn’t find as much detail.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the video. It has really made an impression on me. I wish I was working with a class of children so we could discuss it and write about it.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  6. Annecdotist

    It is fascinating that the crow went to so much trouble to share with the mouse and I love how you’ve built a story around that. And a reminder of how it can be risky to try to identify birds from pictures on the Internet which can often be misnamed. Your six corvid species seem to omit magpies – one has helpfully prompted me by landing on the grass outside my window – which I know you are quite fond of.
    Enjoyed your flash too – very neat how you built in the bullying theme.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I agree with you about the crow’s effort, Anne. It really surprised me.
      Our magpies are not corvids. They are members of the family Artamidae. I do love the magpies. They often sing outside my study. I haven’t heard them much today, maybe because it’s been raining, but I’m not sure. Yesterday I had to stop to listen and watch a number of times. Their singing is so beautiful, it takes my breath away.
      Thank you for enjoying my stories.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

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